The Nun (R)
I am an atheist and that may color some of my reaction to this film, but my main question following it was: What do Catholics think of the exploitation of some aspects of their faith that is exhibited here? A friendly priest, Father Burke (Demian Bichir), is assigned the duty of investigating an apparent suicide in Romania in 1952. Accompanying him is a comely novitiate, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, younger sister of Vera Farmiga who has two cameos in this film). Taissa Farmiga plays Sister Irene in “The Nun.”
The two make their way to Romania and immediately meet Frenchie (Jonas Blouquet), who turns out to be the comic relief for the film though he is not really funny and no relief at all. He is proud of being a French CANADIAN, which cuts no ice with the demons that pursue the trio in the usual exorcist mode.
The Nun is a shrouded presence who apparently runs the massive abbey deep in the Romanian woods where there is plenty of room for monumental graveyards and crosses. Sister Irene crosses herself constantly, though nothing she does stops the cinema terror long enough for her and Burke to find an exit from this horrible place.
First, I love Jennifer Garner. I think she has proven to be a great mom and plays well in domestic and rom-comedies. As the lead in a revenge-oriented thriller, she turned me off. First, she looks horrible through much of the film. Of course, this is largely due to the adventures she undergoes and to the suffering she must have felt making many of the scenes in this violent, irrational film. But second, she looks frequently embarrassed by the junk she has to wade through in order to make some sense of this film.
The confusion over what the film is about is evident early. Her family―husband, Chris (Jeff Hephner) and daughter, Carly (Cailey Fleming)―are wiped out by a mob headed by Juan Pablo Raba as Diego Garcia. Riley North (Jennifer Garner) vows to eliminate all those responsible. Revenge, clear? She early on disposes of the three hitmen she was able to identify as they drove by in dim light (!) and hangs them from a Ferris wheel. Then she broadens her focus and begins to act like a superhero. Maybe it’s because she spent five years preparing herself to be a killing machine, but she amasses an arsenal of all types of weapons, learns martial arts and sets about to right all wrongs. She does draw the line at killing children but that’s about the only limit on her thirst for violence.
The movie gets more and more disturbing as she rampages about, killing seemingly every person who ever met or thought of Diego Garcia. She is shot, stabbed and stabbed again, perhaps in an attempt to empty her thoroughly prepared self-treatment medical kit, but the whole exercise boggles the mind. There is a mole in the LAPD, which also takes some solving with its own violent solution, and the disbelief mounts.
The Predator (R)
With its collection of dirty and unfunny jokes from Coyle (Keegan Michael-Key), insipid and often unfunny one-liners from other cast members (most of them over-using the “F” bomb), a stupid and repetitive script, overloads of special effects and armament, this sci-fi “thriller” becomes boring very quickly. An autistic boy, Rory (Jacob Tremblay), stumbles into secrets from aliens who are here to harvest our best and brightest (including Rory, of course), but who have to confront Rory’s father, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) and an assorted gang of misfits, mentally damaged and rootless prisoners, plus the beautiful but largely useless Olivia Munn as a scientist (Casey Bracket) who is nevertheless highly talented in using the weapons she is given to get rid of the aliens.
To give her credit, Bracket wants to study the Predator (why do only the scientists want to study rather than kill?), but she has little support. Her most cogent verdict on the aliens is: “I thing they’re trying to hybridize.” Really, doctor? What makes you think that? Actually, it’s merely an excuse for one more assault with everything but nuclear weapons and a chance for one more scene to fill out the time.
Impossible chases, especially the one with four earthlings on the outside of a space ship trying to escape, are littered throughout and make you wish that the cast would obey the most-frequently mentioned phrase in the film: “Shut the “f*** up!”
White Boy Rick (R)
Maybe I’m being unfair, but seldom have I enjoyed a movie less. The plot—based on a real-life story—is hackneyed as it follows a young man of 15 into a world of drug sales and purchase, his father (Matthew McConaughey) is an illegal gun seller, and his sister (Bel Powley) is a junkie. Corrupt cops use Rick (Richie Merritt) to get other criminals.
The acting is horrible, especially from a virtually inert Merritt and a horrendous Powley, but they are incredibly hard to look at as well. French director Yann Demange prefers the tightest possible close-ups during action scenes, which makes them impossible to figure out or watch—I actually looked away to save my vision several times and found I’d missed nothing. The whole mess is unsavory, ugly, written in a language that I admit I do not understand, filled with the most popular word in films these days—F***k—that is over-used in the extreme. Even McConaughey looks old and decrepit much of the time, so much so that in his one scene in a suit and tie he is all but unrecognizable. I find myself getting ill again, writing of this disaster. Sorry, but this week’s entries are both perfect for being missed.