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Mike Faist interviews Jodie Comer about her days as part of a Midwest biker gang in "The Bikeriders." Photo by Kyle Kaplan

OPENING

 

Agent Recon (NR) Derek Ting writes, directs, and stars in this action thriller as a young soldier sent to track a mysterious disturbance at a New Mexico base. Also with Marc Singer, Sylvia Kwan, Jason Scott Jenkins, Nikki Leigh, and the late Chuck Norris. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Bikeriders (R) Based on Danny Lyon’s photography book about a Chicago motorcycle gang in the 1960s and ’70s, this film is a constant battle between the strength of its acting and the weakness of its storytelling. Austin Butler stars as a young rider who’s torn between his increasingly worried wife (Jodie Comer) and the gang’s increasingly violent leader (Tom Hardy). We’ve seen this gangster story before, and writer-director Jeff Nichols (Mud) has a shaky grasp on pacing and plotting. Yet the story is carried by Comer, who narrates the devolution of the gang to Danny Lyon (Mike Faist) over the course of several years in a deep-dish Chicago accent. She’s the reason to see this motorcycle movie that passes through familiar territory. Also with Michael Shannon, Boyd Holbrook, Damon Herriman, Beau Knapp, Karl Glusman, Emory Cohen, Toby Wallace, Will Oldham, and Norman Reedus. (Opens Friday)

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Black Ice: The Rhythm (NR) This drama stars Arthur Cartwright as a Black former hockey player-turned-convicted felon who takes up coaching a team full of Black youth players. Also with Bill D. Russell, Michael Ellison, Devante Jamar Adams, Jaclene Wilk, and Shawntez Prince. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Blackwater Lane (PG-13) Minka Kelly stars in this supernatural thriller as a driver who picks up a hitchhiker who may or may not be dead. Also with Dermot Mulroney, Natalie Simpson, Edward Baker-Duly, Pandora Clifford, and Maggie Grace. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Bread & Roses (NR) Sahra Mani’s documentary examines the lives of women in Kabul since the Taliban re-took control of the city. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Cora Bora (NR) This comedy stars Megan Stalter as a lesbian whose attempt to salvage her relationship awakens her to her own issues. Also with Jojo T. Gibbs, Thomas Mann, Chelsea Peretti, Manny Jacinto, Heather Morris, Darrell Hammond, and Margaret Cho. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Crisis Negotiators (NR) A Hong Kong remake of the 1998 Hollywood film The Negotiator, this stars Lau Ching Wan as a police negotiator who becomes the prime suspect in a cop’s murder. Also with Francis Ng, Michael Kiu Wai Miu, Philip Keung, Kent Cheng, and Andy Lau. (Opens Friday)

The Exorcism (R) Russell Crowe stars in this horror film as an actor starring in a horror movie who begins to exhibit strange behavior during the shoot. Also with Ryan Simpkins, Sam Worthington, Chloe Bailey, Adam Goldberg, Adrian Pasdar, Samantha Mathis, and David Hyde Pierce. (Opens Friday)

Ghost: Rite Here Rite Now (NR) I really hope they reference the Jesus Jones song. Tobias Forge and Alex Ross Perry’s concert documentary chronicles the band’s recent performances and also continues their web series. (Opens Friday)

Ghostlight (R) The team of Kelly O’Sullivan and Alex Thompson (Saint Frances) does this drama about a construction worker (Keith Kupferer) who instinctively joins a community theater troupe’s Shakespeare production. Also with Katherine Mallen Kupferer, Tara Mallen, Hanna Dworkin, Dexter Zollicoffer, and Dolly de Leon. (Opens Friday)

Hunter of the Night (NR) This horror film is about a group of college students whose getaway turns deadly. Starring Madison Anders, Diane August, Victoria Bellamy-Friedman, Damondray Christie, and Sidney Covington. (Opens Friday at Look Cinemas Arlington)

I Am: Celine Dion (PG) Irene Taylor’s documentary profiles the pop singer amid her recent health struggles. (Opens Friday)

Ishq Vishk Rebound (NR) This Indian romantic comedy is about three childhood friends whose relationships change as they mature. Starring Pashmina Roshan, Rohit Saraf, Naila Grrewal, Jibraan Khan, Supriya Pilgaonkar, and Sheeba Chaddha. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Kotee (NR) This Kannada-language thriller stars Dhananjaya as a man trying to provide for his family honestly in a corrupt city. Also with Rangayana Raghu, Moksha Kushal, Ramesh Indira, Thara, Thanuja Venkatesh, and Prithvi Shamanur. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Nindha (NR) This Indian legal thriller is about a murder case in which all the main suspects are kidnapped simultaneously. Starring Varun Sandesh, Tanikella Bharani, Shreya Nani Reddy, Bhadram, Siddharth Gollapudi, Chatrapathi Sekhar, and Surya. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Origin (R) Ava DuVernay’s docudrama is chockablock with fascinating ideas that never quite jell. Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor portrays Isabel Wilkerson, the New York Times journalist who copes with the sudden death of her husband (Jon Bernthal) by undertaking a wide-ranging exploration of the global caste system. This movie’s 141 minutes take in American racism, the Holocaust, and Indian dalits, as well as flashbacks across centuries. DuVernay is too intelligent and too talented not to come up with some glittering insights here, but Wilkerson’s book (which this is based on) puts its arguments forth more cogently. Also with Niecy Nash, Emily Yancy, Finn Wittrock, Victoria Pedretti, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Stephanie March, Donna Mills, Leonardo Nam, Connie Nielsen, Blair Underwood, Nick Offerman, Audra McDonald, and Vera Farmiga. (Re-opens Friday)

A Road to a Village (NR) This Nepalese drama examines the gains and losses when the government builds a new road to a particular village. Starring Dayahang Rai, Pashupati Rai, Prem Subba, and Prasan Rai. (Opens Friday at Cinepolis Euless)

Robot Dreams (NR) Nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Film, this dialogue-free Spanish movie is about a dog who buys a robot to serve as his friend in 1980s New York City. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Thelma (PG-13) June Squibb stars in this comic thriller as a 93-year-old retiree who seeks revenge after a phone scammer takes her money. Also with Parker Posey, Fred Hechinger, Clark Gregg, Chase Kim, Malcolm McDowell, and the late Richard Roundtree. (Opens Friday)

UmroAyyar — A New Beginning (NR) Based on the Hamzanama, this Pakistani fantasy film is about a thief (Hamza Ali Abbasi) who is redeemed when he becomes a legendary warrior. Also with Usman Mukhtar, Faran Tahir, Ali Kazmi, Sanam Saeed, and Simi Raheal. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

What Remains (NR) This Swedish thriller stars Gustaf Skarsgård as a mental patient who confesses to a string of murders. Also with Andrea Riseborough, Éva Magyar, Antti Luusuaniemi, Miika Ahlroth, and Stellan Skarsgård. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Bad Boys: Ride or Die (R) Will Smith and Martin Lawrence re-team for this fourth installment of the series as the Miami cops who become fugitives after trying to disprove corruption allegations against their late captain (Joe Pantoliano). Also with Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Núñez, Eric Dane, Ioan Gruffudd, Jacob Scipio, and Tiffany Haddish. 

Chandu Champion (NR) This Indian sports biopic stars Kartik Aaryan as Murlikant Petkar, India’s first-ever gold medalist at the Paralympic Games. Also with Bhuvan Arora, Yashpal Sharma, Rajpal Yadav, Aniruddh Dave, and Adonis Kapsalis.

Face Off 7: One Wish (NR) This Vietnamese drama about an old woman needing to rely on her adult children for care stars Tram Anh, Truong Minh Cuong, Tran Kim Hai, Thanh Hien, and Dinh Y Nhung. 

The Fall Guy (PG-13) This big-screen version of the 1980s TV show is catnip for anyone who thinks stunt performers should be able to win Oscars. Ryan Gosling plays a Hollywood stuntman who’s called in to investigate the disappearance of a movie star (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) from the set of a blockbuster that’s filming in Australia. Director David Leitch is a former stuntman himself, and while he’s had trouble handling humor in his past projects as a director, here the laughs sit easily on the story as the stuntman has to deal with his ex-girlfriend (Emily Blunt), who happens to be directing the movie. The climax features so many stunts that it turns out to be too much of a good thing. The movie is better when focusing on the little details that help stunt performers do their job, making this an endearing tribute to the profession. Also with Hannah Waddingham, Winston Duke, Stephanie Hsu, Teresa Palmer, Ben Knight, Adam Dunn, Kalkida China, Heather Thomas, Lee Majors, and an uncredited Jason Momoa.

Firebrand (R) Alicia Vikander stars in this historical drama as Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of King Henry VIII (Jude Law) who has to fight for her survival as her husband’s health worsens. Also with Eddie Marsan, Sam Riley, Mia Threapleton, Ruby Bentall, Amr Waked, Erin Doherty, Patsy Ferran, and Simon Russell Beale. 

The Garfield Movie (PG) And still filmmakers haven’t deciphered how to make a good movie about the comic-strip cat. This animated version stars Chris Pratt as the fat orange kitty, whose long-lost father (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) comes back into his life because he’s in debt to a cat mob boss (voiced by Hannah Waddingham) with a personal grudge. I would say Pratt is the wrong actor to voice such a sardonic character, but the generic adventure that follows doesn’t have much to do with Garfield at all, nor does it show much understanding of what made him popular in the first place. Some of the sequences in this Sony Animation film showcasing Garfield’s obsession with Italian food feel like outtakes from the studio’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs movies, but that’s not enough to lift this. Odie (voiced by Harvey Guillén) is the real hero here, which maybe cinches the idea that these filmmakers don’t know Garfield. Additional voices by Ving Rhames, Cecily Strong, Nicholas Hoult, Brett Goldstein, Bowen Yang, and Snoop Dogg. 

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (PG-13) At this point, why bother with the humans at all? Just have the massive beasts act out the drama, and we won’t miss the dialogue. King Kong and Godzilla are awakened by a new threat to life on Earth, which forces our scientists (Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry) to undertake a journey into uncharted reaches of the hollow Earth. Dan Stevens turns up as a veterinary dentist with an Australian accent, Hawaiian shirt, and blond highlights, and he’s the only one who’s remotely having fun. Everything else is swallowed up by the special effects. It’s all just exquisitely boring. Also with Kaylee Hottle, Fala Chen, Alex Ferns, Rachel House, and Greg Hatton.

Haikyuu!! The Dumpster Battle (PG-13) This Japanese anime spinoff of the TV and manga series has Shoyo (Ayumu Murase) and his volleyball team advancing to the third round of the national tournament. Additional voices by Kaito Ishikawa, Yûki Kaji, Yûichi Nakamura, Kôki Uchiyama, HIsao Egawa, and Nobuaki Fukuda. 

IF (PG) John Krasinski the writer comes up with a great premise, and then John Krasinski the director immediately squanders it. John Krasinski the actor portrays a widowed father who’s having heart surgery in a New York hospital, so his 12-year-old daughter (Cailey Fleming) moves in with her grandma (Fiona Shaw) in the city. When she acquires the ability to see and talk to kids’ imaginary friends whose children have outgrown them, she has to team up with the grandmother’s shut-in neighbor (Ryan Reynolds) to rehome them with new kids. The pacing is slack, the movie takes forever to get Reynolds on the screen, the director yanks at our heartstrings in exhausting fashion, and worst of all, a stacked voice cast is wasted. Also with Alan Kim, Liza Colón-Zayas, and Bobby Moynihan. Voices by Steve Carell, Emily Blunt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bradley Cooper, Blake Lively, Awkwafina, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sam Rockwell, Jon Stewart, Bill Hader, Amy Schumer, Keegan-Michael Key, Matthew Rhys, Maya Rudolph, Richard Jenkins, Sebastian Maniscalco, and the late Louis Gossett Jr.

In a Violent Nature (NR) Not a retro-1980s horror film, but something more interesting. This Canadian import follows the killer rather than the stupid young people he chases around the woods of northern Ontario. Writer-director Chris Nash spends most of the time either taking the camera behind the slasher (Ry Barrett) as he plods around the forest or filming him without showing his face. This tactic is so effective that it’s needlessly jarring when Nash breaks from the format. The technique on display is ruthless, so it’s too bad that the movie fails to comment on the tropes of slasher flicks the way previous films have. There’s still no denying Nash’s talent behind the camera. With a few more ideas, he’ll be a filmmaker to reckon with. Also with Andrea Pavlovic, Reece Presley, Cameron Love, Liam Leone, Charlotte Creaghan, Lea Rose Sebastianis, Sam Roulston, Alexander Oliver, Timothy Paul McCarthy, and Lauren-Marie Taylor.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13) The latest installment in the series is proficient and stubbornly unexciting. Decades after Caesar’s death, ape civilization has gone to hell, with a king (Kevin Durand) enslaving tribes of apes to glorify himself. The lone survivor of one captive tribe (Owen Teague) resolves to free his people with the help of a starving human (Freya Allan) who has her own agenda. Director Wes Ball (from the Maze Runner films) is more comfortable with these CGI simians than he is with human beings, and the action sequences are legible without ever raising the pulse. It’s all eminently watchable, and it exists at entirely too comfortable a remove. Also with Peter Macon, Eka Darville, Lydia Peckham, Sara Wiseman, Travis Jeffery, and William H. Macy. 

Maharaja (NR) Anurag Kashyap stars in this Indian thriller as a barber who goes on a violent revenge spree after his home is burglarized. Also with Abhirami, Vijay Sethupathi, Mamta Mohandas, Bharathiraja, and Divya Bharathi.

Pujar Sarki (NR) This Nepalese comedy stars Aaryan Sigdel as a man waging a fight to end caste discrimination in his country. Also with Pradeep Khadka, Paul Shah, Anjana Baralli, Prem Subba, Parikshya Limbu, and Lokendra Lekhak. 

The Strangers: Chapter 1 (R) It’s the same movie! This is the same movie as the 2008 slasher flick! Madelaine Petsch and Froy Gutierrez play a couple who rent an Airbnb in the remote Oregon countryside and then are stalked by the trio of masked killers. This is intended as the first in a trilogy of horror films, but did they have to repeat the original so slavishly? And where does the series go from here? Neither the killers nor the protagonist victims are interesting enough to merit their own cinematic universe. Neither the acting nor Renny Harlin’s direction are enough to make this movie stand on its own. Also with Richard Brake, Rachel Shenton, Gabriel Basso, Ema Horvath, and Ella Bruccoleri. 

Treasure (R) This Holocaust comedy stars Lena Dunham as a modern-day journalist who travels to Poland with her survivor father (Stephen Fry), who keeps getting into funny situations. Also with André Hennicke, Tomasz Wlosok, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Iwona Bielska, and Wenanty Nosul. 

The Watchers (PG-13) Adapted from A.M. Shine’s novel, Ishana Night Shyamalan’s horror film stars Dakota Fanning as an American expat who becomes trapped in a mysterious room in the forests of western Ireland. Also with Georgina Campbell, Oliver Finnegan, John Lynch, and Olwen Fouéré. 

Young Woman and the Sea (PG) The story of Gertrude Ederle has been Disneyfied into this perfectly ordinary sports drama. Daisy Ridley plays the New Yorker of German extraction who, after a disappointing showing at the 1924 Olympics, decides to become the first woman to swim the English Channel. The movie gets a jolt from Stephen Graham as the Scotsman who accomplishes the feat and unexpectedly swoops in to coach Gertrude, and there’s a vivid sequence with Gertrude swimming through a patch of red jellyfish. Still, director Joachim Rønning follows the template too obediently to make this period piece come to life. Nyad is the much odder and better film about the loneliness of the long-distance swimmer. Also with Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Kim Bodnia, Jeanette Hain, Ethan Rouse, Sian Clifford, Glenn Fleshler, Olive Abercrombie, Alexander Karim, and Christopher Eccleston. 

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

Fresh Kills (NR) Jennifer Esposito stars in her own directing debut as a Mafia wife who takes control of her crime family in the 1980s. Also with Annabella Sciorra, Domenick Lombardozzi, Nicholas Cirillo, David Iacono, Odessa A’zion, and Emily Bader. 

Reverse the Curse (NR) David Duchovny writes, directs, and co-stars in this comedy as a terminally ill man whose son (Logan Marshall-Green) fakes a winning streak by his favorite baseball team to lift his spirits. Also with Stephanie Beatriz, Pamela Adlon, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Evan Handler, and Jason Beghe. 

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