REVIEW: Snowden

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films

Chris Luckett

A year ago, Joseph Gordon-Levitt starred in The Walk. Adapted from the same you-wouldn’t-believe-it-if-it-weren’t-true tale as 2008’s Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire, The Walk was a biopic of tightrope-walker Philippe Petit that fictionalized the events that’d been shown in documentary footage less than a decade earlier.

What saved it from feeling like an unnecessary re-tread — besides Gordon-Levitt’s strong performance — was the skill of legendary director Robert Zemeckis, who made the crazy true story feel even more real than the documentary footage.

Now here we are one year later, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt starring in Snowden, adapted from the you-wouldn’t-believe-it-if-it-weren’t-true tale as 2014’s Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour. Once again, Gordon-Levitt’s performance gives the movie a strong anchor. Director Oliver Stone, though, can’t pull off the same daring feat as Zemeckis.

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CORE STORY: First Snowden trailer debuts

Photo: Open Road Films

Photo: Open Road Films

Chris Luckett

Controversial director Oliver Stone, absent from the big screen since 2012’s Savages, will return this year with a bio-pic of Edward Snowden.

The first trailer for Snowden debuted online yesterday and the film looks to have the potential to be Stone’s strongest movie in over a decade.

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Snowden will look at the CIA agent who exposed the NSA’s global surveillance programs in 2013 and remains abroad, seeking asylum.

Snowden’s story has already been told once before, first-hand, in 2014’s Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour.

Snowden opens across North America on September 16, 2016.

 

REVIEW: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Photo: The Weinstein Company

Photo: The Weinstein Company

Chris Luckett

Earlier this year, Eva Green appeared in the combination-prequel-sequel to a smash adaptation of a Frank Miller graphic novel, 300: Rise of an Empire. The first time wasn’t enough for Green, though, as she now returns in a different combination-prequel-sequel to a smash adaptation of a Frank Miller graphic novel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. She was the best part of the 300 follow-up, much as she is here, but also just like that pre/sequel, Green’s presence can’t overpower deeper faults within the movie.

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REVIEW: Don Jon

Photo: Relativity Media

Photo: Relativity Media

Chris Luckett

Generally, first-time writer-directors who began as actors fall into two categories: ones that seem accomplished from the get-go and ones that truly feel like first-time writer-directors. Ben Affleck, Zach Braff, and Robert Redford all managed to dazzle with their very first efforts, for example. Unfortunately, Don Jon is no Gone Baby Gone, Garden State, or Ordinary People

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REVIEW: Premium Rush

Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing

Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing

Chris Luckett

The best male performance last year was Michael Shannon’s lead role in the criminally under-seen Take Shelter. Shannon is at the stage of his career when he’s recognizable by most but identifiable by few. His performance in Take Shelter was finely nuanced, a poignant and mysterious look at a man who is either becoming prophetic or schizophrenic. It was a brilliant piece of acting, earning him numerous accolades and awards. Shannon firmly proved he is one of the most gifted actors of our time.

This is not that performance. Shannon throws all subtlety out the window in Premium Rush. This is a movie built for one purpose and one purpose only — fun — and Shannon takes full advantage of the carefree environment to ham it up and chew the scenery harder than anyone probably has since Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns.

Premium Rush is an action movie that doesn’t try to be anything more what it is. It’s not concerned with labyrinthine twists or evocative emotion; it just wants to entertain you. Continue reading