This week at the movies, we’ve got imperiled would-be thieves (Don’t Breathe, starring Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette), an assassin on the run (Mechanic: Resurrection, starring Jason Statham and Jessica Alba), a legendary pugilist (Hands of Stone, starring Edgar Ramirez and Robert De Niro), and a fateful first date (Southside With You, starring Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter). What do the critics have to say?
A trio of teens with ill intentions bust into a blind man’s house. Sounds like the setup for a suitably sleazy home invasion thriller, right? Don’t Breathe delivers, but with a twist: instead of a helpless victim, our would-be thieves stumble upon a guy with unsuspected skills — and a mean streak a mile wide. Maybe it isn’t the stuff Oscars are made of, but critics say the end result is a satisfyingly nasty bit of suspense-filled horror, and one that further establishes director/co-writer Fede Alvarez (reuniting here with his Evil Dead star Jane Levy) as a talented filmmaker who just needs a few ingredients to pack a punch. August has a reputation as a bit of a dumping ground for subpar genre fare, but Don’t Breathe looks like a spine-tingling exception to the rule.
“No más.” Say those words around any serious boxing fan, and they’ll immediately understand you’re making a reference to the landmark 1980 rematch between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Durán in which Durán, defending his WBC championship belt, turned his back on Leonard in the waning moments of the eighth round and uttered those infamous words, yielding the fight. This weekend, Durán gets his biopic due with Hands of Stone, starring Édgar Ramírez as the boxer, Robert De Niro as his trainer Ray Arcel, and Usher as Leonard. Unfortunately, critics say the results don’t quite do Durán’s story justice; reviews describe a fairly standard boxing flick that hits the usual beats, but without sufficient strength of conviction. There’s certainly no shortage of movies that put you in the ring, and ESPN’s 30 for 30 gave this fight a documentary overview with No Más in 2013. Viewers hungry for a cinematic beatdown may wish to seek out one of those options instead.
It’s exceedingly rare for Hollywood to release a narrative film about a sitting president, and rarer still to see a POTUS-inspired movie that focuses on the personal rather than the political. This weekend’s Southside With You offers a notable exception, starring Parker Sawyers as a young Barack Obama and Tika Sumpter as Michelle Robinson — the woman we now know as the nation’s First Lady. Writer-director Richard Tanne uses his appealing leads to piece together an idea of what the couple’s first date might have looked like, and critics say the results should be entertaining for anyone who appreciates a good walking-and-talking cinematic romance, regardless of where they sit along the political aisle. We all know where the Obamas went after the evening we witness in Southside With You, but the reviews argue it’s still well worth it to witness the start of their journey.
The Mechanic earned a middling critical response in 2011, but enough people turned out to watch Jason Statham star in a remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson action thriller that we’ve got ourselves a sequel this week. Unfortunately, The Mechanic: Resurrection didn’t screen for critics, so you know what that means — it’s time to play Guess the Tomatometer!
Gomorrah brings a refreshing twist to a familiar story, with its realistic, unglamorous and often riveting portrayal of a Neapolitan crime organization.
Halt and Catch Fire finds its footing in an optimistic third season that builds on the fascinating relationship between a pair of emerging protagonists.
Better Late Than Never‘s wayward travelers offer up enough personality and surprisingly sincere moments to buoy the show’s all too familiar shenanigans.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release