This weekend at the movies, we’ve got a family’s flight from danger (Kin, starring Jack Reynor and Zoë Kravitz), a war criminal’s extradition (Operation Finale, starring Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley), and a father’s desperate quest for his missing daughter (Searching, starring John Cho). What are the critics saying?
As the calendar ticks toward Labor Day, kids across the country are settling back into their school routines — while at the cineplex, we’re entering our third consecutive weekend of kids on epic adventures that have nothing to do with the classroom. Following on the heels of Alpha and A.X.L., both of which offered some variation on the classic “boy and his dog” formula, here’s Kin, in which a teenager (Myles Truitt) hits the road with his adopted big brother (Jack Reynor) in order to escape the clutches of a local hood (James Franco). Their only hope? A weapon that could give them the edge over their pursuers — even if they aren’t quite sure where it came from. Rounded out by supporting turns from Zoë Kravitz and Dennis Quaid, Kin is a feature-length spin on Bag Man, the 2014 short from directors Jonathan and Josh Baker and screenwriter Daniel Casey; unfortunately, critics say it doesn’t exactly benefit from the added length, particularly due to a story that awkwardly balances a road trip drama against a crime thriller before taking a late pivot into sci-fi territory. Reviews describe an outing that seems to have been made with sequels in mind — but one that doesn’t seem likely to receive the franchise treatment.
The trial of Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann — and the mission to extract him from his secret Argentinian exile and bring him to justice decades after World War II ended — is a riveting real-life story, so it’s only natural that it’s inspired a slew of films over the years. Any movie seeking to put its own spin on this tale is covering well-trod ground, in other words, but when you’ve got a couple of stellar actors in your cast, you can get away with a certain lack of originality — and Operation Finale, starring Ben Kingsley as Eichmann and Oscar Isaac as Peter Malkin, the Israeli agent determined to capture him, certainly fits the bill. It’s a good thing, too: while a slim majority of the pundits definitely approve of this latest dramatization, a number of reviews credit much of its success to the talent onscreen, and performances that add some of the extra depth and shading that isn’t always supplied by the script. It all adds up to a movie that probably won’t be thought of as the definitive statement on the subject, but the cast — and director Chris Weitz‘s efforts at the reins — make Operation Finale worth a watch for fans of fact-based period drama.
Producer Timur Bekmambetov believes our screens have taken over our lives to the point where they can be used as a vantage point for entire movies — and he’s proven it with his burgeoning “Screen Life” genre, which includes the Unfriended franchise as well as this weekend’s Searching, in which a panicked father (John Cho) uses his missing daughter’s online history to try and find her before it’s too late. Using phones and computer screens as a movie’s point of view is the type of filmmaking twist that can quickly become a gimmick, but in this case, critics say the end result is thoroughly entertaining — an engrossing thriller whose old-school underpinnings serve its unique visual trappings well. “Screen Life” may ultimately end up feeling as played out as found footage; for now, however, Searching looks like one of the more effective missing-person movies in recent memory.
Though not as thematically rich as some of its geopolitical predecessors, Jack Ryan is a satisfying addition to the genre buoyed by exceptional action sequences and a likable cast.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release