Tommaso


Meet Tommaso.

(2019) Drama (Kino-Lorber) Willem Dafoe, Cristina Chiriac, Anna Ferrara, Stella Mastrantonio, Lorenzo Piazzoni, Alessandro Prato, Alessandra Camilla-Scarci. Directed by Abel Ferrara

 

Self-portraits can be extremely revealing; they can also be the product of an ego run amok. When art imitates life, you never quite know what you’re going to get; unflinching honesty, or fawning self-aggrandizement or something in between.

Tommaso (Dafoe) is an American ex-pat living in Rome with his much younger wife Nikki (Chiriac) and his three-year-old daughter DeeDee (Anna Ferrara). He is six years sober after years abusing alcohol, drugs and anyone unfortunate enough to be in his orbit. He is working on a sci-fi script about a man living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland who learns to love again, attends regular AA meetings, and runs drama classes when he’s not being tutored into learning the Italian language. He seems to dote on his daughter and is deeply in love with his wife, even though sex with a toddler in the house is nearly impossible.

Cracks begin to show in the façade; the more we learn about Tommaso, the more we see that he has a dark side that wasn’t entirely due to the drugs and booze. We also begin to understand that we are seeing events through Tommaso’s lens; not everything we see is real. He sees his wife with another man and soon becomes paranoid to the point where his wife begins to draw away from him. Tommaso has always been a womanizer; he begins to come on to one of his students who isn’t exactly against the idea. However, as much as he regrets the mistakes he’s made in his life and as open as he is to discussing them, he certainly isn’t above repeating them – or making all-new mistakes.

Dafoe as Tommaso is at the center of all the action here and Ferraro couldn’t have put his film in better hands. Dafoe is an actor who seems to be getting better with age, and while he doesn’t have the mystique of a Pacino or De Niro, he is every bit as good. Tommaso is one of his best performances ever, manic and soulful, good-hearted and yet demonic. Through Dafoe, Ferrara is able to ruminate on the nature of happiness and what it means to make yourself a better person – and how truly difficult that is.

Unfortunately, the choice to make this an internal point of view means that we never know if what we are seeing is real, or a dream, or madness. In one shocking scene, Tommaso imagines seeing his daughter crossing the street and getting hit by a taxi. It turns out that was a paranoid delusion, but was it? Maybe the scenes thereafter where the daughter lives are the illusion.

When Dafoe ends up crucified (an obvious nod to The Last Temptation of Christ), I really had to question if this wasn’t a vanity project after all. I’m no psychiatrist but imagining your cinematic avatar in a Christ-like pose seems to be a cry for years of therapy at the very least.

The movie goes off the rails near the end and by that point I was wishing that the film had not been quite so long. Ferrara is a gifted director and maybe this is his way of baring his soul and making amends. I don’t know. But I’m not sure if I’m up to giving absolution after two hours of mea culpas. I’m not sure anybody is, these days.

REASONS TO SEE: Dafoe continues to turn in magnificent performances.
REASONS TO AVOID: Somewhat pretentious and self-absorbed.
FAMILY VALUES: There is profanity as well as a fair amount of sex and some violence.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The wife and daughter of Tommaso are played by director Abel Ferrara’s actual wife and daughter.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Virtual Cinema Experience
CRITICAL MASS: As of 6/7/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 85% positive reviews: Metacritic: 66/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Broken Embraces
FINAL RATING: 6/10
NEXT:
Serenity (2019)

AMC vs. Universal


As if things weren’t bad enough for the theater industry, the American Multi Cinemas chain – the largest in the United States – announced that when theaters reopened, they would no longer be showing any films made by Universal or their associated labels (including DreamWorks, Focus and Illumination). Considering that Universal has in its upcoming slate two of the biggest franchises in Hollywood – Jurassic World and F9 (The Fast and the Furious) this seemed like AMC was shooting itself in the foot.

The controversy erupted over an interview that NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell gave to the Wall Street Journal, in which he lauded the $95 million that Trolls World Tour made on Premium Video on Demand (PVOD) and how Universal would be looking into doing day and date PVOD in the future alongside their regular theatrical releases.

This raised red flags in the theatrical exhibitor firmament. For decades now, there has been an understanding that there would be a window between theatrical releases and home video/streaming releasing which would give theaters a chance to make as much revenue as they possibly could. Considering that theaters only get a portion of admission fees (they do get 100% of concessions which is why it costs so much for popcorn and a soft drink),that get larger the longer a movie is in theaters, it is in the best interest of theaters to keep movies in the multiplex for as long as they can.

So AMC head honcho Adam Aron took the drastic step of banning Universal product in his theatersWith. He was joined the next cay by Cineworld, owners of Regal – the second largest chain of theaters in the country. It’s possible other chains will join the ban.

This feels like a lose-lose situation for those that are caught in the middle – the moviegoing public. Both sides have pros and cons to their positions. For Universal, the pros are that the trend for movie viewing has been changing as audiences are increasingly watching films at home. As home theater set-ups get more sophisticated, it is not impossible to if not replicate at least approximate the theater experience in your own living room. It is also demonstrably less expensive, particularly for families; an evening at the movie theater including concessions, tickets and parking can often run right around $100 for a family of four or more. Although services like AMC A-List are making it more affordable for families to go out to the theater together, it still can be a hassle. Studios are well-aware of these changing trends and would be foolish not to be preparing for it. With a profusion of streaming services appearing, the demand for product is only growing and especially for product that is exclusive to those services. While Disney Plus and the upcoming HBO Max (debuting in May) have a built-in studio supply chain (Disney and Warners, respectively) Universal which at present doesn’t have a streaming platform of their own will likely end up supplying product to established outlets like Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu.

The con for Universal is that movies going directly to PVOD rob theaters of a potential revenue stream. The situation with Trolls World Tour was unique; scheduled to hit theaters in March, the coronavirus pandemic closed the movie theaters  up and with nowhere to show the film, and most of their slate postpones or canceled, Universal felt that the lesser of two evils was sending Trolls World Tour direct to home video, allowing families with antsy children to see it at home while quarantined. However, the nearly hundred million dollar take went to the streaming services and Univeral; the theaters made nothing on the film and while art houses and independent distributors are partnering up for virtual cinema experiences that partially benefit independent theaters that show indie films, nothing like that exists for big chains and the studios aren’t about to take something like Top Gun: Maverick and put it on a video streaming service benefiting AMC or Regal since theaters won’t due a lot to promote the films. The loss of potential profits to the theatrical film exhibition industry, which is already suffering and operating on a thin margin, is devastating and might be the straw that breaks the back of chains like AMC which is already in some financial difficulty.

For AMC, the pro is preserving a business model that works; they can if they play their cards right possibly negotiate a more favorable rental fee system that allows them more of a buffer. It also might make other studios think twice before considering taking a similar stance as Universal, in which case the chains will be at the mercy of the studios who could leverage big blockbusters with smaller films, forcing theaters to carry less profitable product in order to get their hands on the big blockbusters that are their bread and butter.

The negative is that they are being seen as petulant and tone-deaf by the moviegoing public, who are already complaining loudly about the cost of going to the movies. Some fans are already saying they will take their business to smaller chains like Alamo Drafthouse and see the big blockbusters there. Even having the industry standard A-List promotion, it has to be said that the A-List really only benefits regular moviegoers; casual moviegoers will find less value in it and consequently will feel less brand loyalty. If people start seeing AMC as the Avaricious Mean Chain, it could spell trouble for their bottom line which is already, reportedly, in trouble.

For those fretting that they won’t be able to see Minions: The Rise of Gru in their favorite theater, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. This is likely to be resolved before the theaters open up again. However it shakes out, the likely loser in all of these machinations will be the public, which is pretty much par for the course these days.

Pick of the Litter – April 2020


As with the weekly previews, our monthly preview will not be run as most theaters remain closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. We will resume publication of Pick of the Litter once theaters begin to reopen, which at present looks to be in June with possibly major studios starting to release films again in July. Of course, that’s extremely subject to change. Thanks for your patience and remember to stay home and stay alive.

Resistance (2020)


The path of least resistance.

(2020) Biographical Drama (IFCJesse Eisenberg, Ed Harris, Edgar Ramirez, Clémence Poésy, Matthias Schweighöfer, Bella Ramsey, Géza Röhrig, Karl Marcovics, Félix Moati, Alicia von Rittberg, Vica Kerekes, Tobias Gareth Elman, Kue Lawrence, Christian Clarke, Aurélie Bancilhon, Karina Beuthe Orr, Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey, Ryan Hadaller, Phillip Lenkowsky, Louise Morell. Directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz

 

Marcel Marceau is a name that likely many Americans under the age of 40 are unfamiliar with, other than perhaps in broad, general terms. He is considered perhaps the greatest mime who ever lived; certainly, the greatest of the 20th century. Few Americans – myself included – know much more than that. But did you know he was also a war hero?

Marcel (Eisenberg) is an aspiring actor working in a cabaret. His disapproving father (Marcovics) would prefer that his young son follow him in his trade – a Kosher butcher. However, both their plans are put into disarray with the Nazi invasion of France. Dad gets shipped off to Auschwitz while his son joins the French underground, mainly in order to protect a group of Jewish orphans but also to stay close to the comely Emma (Poésy), but also because the charismatic Georges (Röhrig) insists on it.

Opposing them will be Klaus Barbie (Schweighöfer), one of the most vicious and sadistic Nazis in history. Moving the orphans from occupied France to neutral Switzerland will take heroic measures – and the mime, who has heretofore not been too fond of children until recently and has served mainly as a forger, will find reserves of strength he didn’t know he had.

Eisenberg is kind of an odd choice to play Marceau, although his eternal boyish looks stood him in good stead when he was playing the 16-year-old Marcel. His French accent was kind of an on-again, off-again affair which was fairly annoying after a while. Still, Eisenberg manages to churn out perhaps his most likable characterization ever. He’s always played guys with a bit of a neurotic edge, but this is much more of a straightforward portrayal. Besides, I think the entire French nation would have risen up in protest had Eisenberg played him neurotic.

The last third is more in the suspense genre and Jakubowicz does a good job with maintaining a bit of an edge-of-the-seat tone, although to be honest since we know Marceau would go on to be an entertainer for another sixty years after the war, it is a bit anti-climactic – we know he’ll survive. Sadly, the movie is a good 20 minutes too long and terribly uneven; there are some good moments, as we’ve mentioned but there are nearly as many that don’t work. Jakubowicz makes some odd choices like having Ed Harris as General George S. Patton (!) show up in the beginning, and the end. While it’s true that Marceau did work as a liaison to Patton at the conclusion of the war, the insertion of the colorful general (who is subdued here) seemed a bit like name-dropping and didn’t particularly add anything to the story. Besides, even Harris would admit that nobody is ever going to equal George C. Scott’s performance as Patton.

This is a story that needed to be told, but it also needed to be told better. Marceau was undoubtedly a hero and few people outside of France are aware of it. The movie is sadly uneven and a bit self-indulgent but the heart is in the right place. Those willing to take a chance on it will be treated to a movie that’s worth the effort to seek out.

REASONS TO SEE: Eisenberg is at his most likable. The suspense elements work well.
REASONS TO AVOID: A bit of a slow-moving jumble.
FAMILY VALUES: There is enough violence to garner a restricted rating.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Although the film takes place in Strasbourg, France, it was largely filmed in Prague.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Vudu
CRITICAL MASS: As of 3/30/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 59% positive reviews, Metacritic: 56/100
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Hotel Terminus
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT:
Clover

New Releases for the Week of March 20, 2020


Normally on Thursdays Cinema365 runs a preview of movies opening in the Orlando area specifically, the state of Florida generally and in wide release nationwide. However, with the Coronavirus pandemic closing nationwide and nearly every major studio release (and several independent releases as well) pulled for either a postponed release or eventually moving directly to a streaming platform, we’ll be foregoing this column for the foreseeable future. We’ll continue to update our Coming Soon column as best we can while social distancing is in effect, but don’t expect a resumption of the New Releases column for at least six weeks and possibly longer.

Also, for those who weren’t aware, the annual Florida Film Festival that normally runs in April (and was set to run the third week of April this year) has also been postponed until further notice (possibly August). You can keep up to date on their webpage here as to when the long-running festival will resume and of course we will be set to cover it once it does.

Again, in case you missed it, we are in a serious situation. I know it’s not easy being cooped up at home, but we still have the Internet, we can still stream movies, we have all sorts of technology to keep us occupied. The best thing we can possibly do right now is not panic, stay home for all but urgent needs,  wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and ignore any news other than from trusted sources like the CDC. It’s not just our own lives at risk remember – it’s the lives of friends and loved ones who may not be able to fight off this virus as easily as you or I might. Be considerate of others during this time; when out shopping, just buy what you need. We’re all in this together. Those of you hoarding sanitizer, toilet paper and other supplies – go eff yourselves.

Pandemic


We live, as the Chinese curse goes, in interesting times. The world is caught in a pandemic of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus, which is not just your ordinary flu. Whether you believe that the crisis has been blown out of all proportion by the media, or has been used as a tool in the re-election campaign in the President, or has been mishandled by governments around the world, there is no doubt no matter what side of the political fence you sit on that it has begun to affect our daily lives and that effect will only intensify in the coming days.

While film festivals and sporting events have been canceled – including the Miami Film Festival, which I have been covering (reviews to come shortly), as yet mainstream movie theaters remain open – at least for the time being. However, there won’t be a lot of content for them in coming weeks – there are no more wide releases left in the month of March as both A Quiet Place – Part II and Mulan  have been put on indefinite hold, while other films have been re-scheduled for later in the year or even next year. Even if the disease runs its course and theaters remain open for the duration, there won’t be a lot of major studio content in them for the month of April. While there are as of yet no plans to delay or cancel the Florida Film Festival, the plans for that celebration will depend greatly on how able Orange County is able to deflect the pandemic from overwhelming emergency services. Walt Disney World, for example, will be closed for the next two weeks. That doesn’t happen often.

Here at Cinema365 World Headquarters, we’ll continue to review movies as often as possible. I work from home so the need to go out into the world is not great, which is a blessing. However, I urge my readers to take precautions – wash your hands regularly, try to avoid large gatherings of people in close proximity as much as possible, and see a doctor immediately if you exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19. Keep informed by checking regularly with the Center for Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov) periodically. I hope to see all of my readers make it out to the other side of this crisis as intact as possible. Cinema365 sincerely wishes that you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe as much as possible.

Bon Voyage


Cinema365 is taking a well-deserved and much-delayed vacation. The site will be down until February 12th; the next two Weekly previews will be skipped. We’ll be back on the 12th, however, with more reviews and more fun. See you back here then!

The Meg


Jason Statham smells something fishy.

(2018) Adventure (Warner Brothers) Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jessica McNamee, Masi Oka, Raymond Vinten, Mai Hongmei, Wei Yi, Vithaya Ransringarm, Rob Kipa-Williams, Tawanda Manyimo, Mark Trotter, Jeremy Tan, Sui Fong Ivy Tsui. Directed by Jon Turtletaub

 

Sharks have been a popular movie villain ever since Steven Spielberg brought forth Jaws as quite possibly the perfect summer movie back in 1975. Given Hollywood’s propensity to the maxim “bigger is better,” it was only a matter of time before we got a gigantic prehistoric shark wreaking havoc.

Jonas Taylor (Statham) is a deep-sea rescue specialist who has an encounter with something huge during an unsuccessful rescue of a sub. Essentially laughed out of the business, he retires to Thailand to get drunk and stay drunk – two things it is quite possible to do in Thailand. However, when an experimental submersible in which his ex-wife (McNamee) is a crew member is trapped below the Marianas Trench (don’t ask), he is enticed back, headed to the sleek 2001-esque research station below the ocean bankrolled by tech gazillionaire Morris (Wilson) and headed by Chinese scientists Dr. Zhang (Chao), his comely daughter Suyin (Bingbing) and precocious granddaughter Meiying (Cai), as well as Jonas’ buddy Mac (Curtis). Needless to say the giant creature Jonas saw is real (Nyah! Nyah! Toldja so!) and turns out to be a gigantic prehistoric shark that has been extinct for 200 million years; except it wasn’t, it had just gone from being a shallow water predator to a deep sea diver because…reasons.

Warner Brothers marketed this as a fun, light summer movie which I suppose a film about people getting swallowed whole by a giant shark would have to be. It really doesn’t live up to the trailer though, although Statham really makes an effort to take the movie on his broad shoulders. Sadly, the movie suffers from hoary plot clichés and underwhelming CGI and comes off as a kind of Plan 9 from the South China Sea. It does skirt the so bad it’s good territory.

Despite all its shortcomings, there is something about the movie that is endearing, although it could have used a little more self-awareness – why, oh why didn’t someone say “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”? – and a little less cool gadgetry. For my money, the movie came within one uneaten chunky Asian kid from getting a more respectable score.

REASONS TO SEE: Statham gives it the old college try.
REASONS TO AVOID: Sketchy CGI and a predictable plot.
FAMILY VALUES: There is aquatic violence, some bloody images, peril and some profanity.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The movie has been in and out of development since 1996 when Disney (!) first bought the rights to the novel. It has bounced around a variety of studios (New Line, Warner Brothers) and directors (Guillermo del Toro, Jan de Bont) in that time.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Fandango Now, Google Play, Microsoft, Movies Anywhere, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 1/2/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 46% positive reviews: Metacritic: 46/100
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Jaws III
FINAL RATING: 5/10
NEXT:
The Spy Who Dumped Me

New Releases for the Week of December 13, 2019


JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL

(Columbia) Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Awkwafina, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Alex Wolff, Colin Hanks. Directed by Jake Kasdan

The gang is back, sucked into the world’s most dangerous videogame like dust bunnies in a vacuum cleaner. This time they are there to rescue one of their own and will brave unexplored territory – deserts and mountains in addition to the jungle – to make it home alive.

See the trailer
For more on the movie this is the website
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG-13 (for adventure action, suggestive content and some language)

Black Christmas

(Universal) Imogen Poots, Cary Elwes, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue. A black masked killer stalks sorority women at a college during Christmas break in this remake of a classic 1974 horror film.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG-13 (for violence, terror, thematic content including sexual assault, language, sexual material and drinking)

Code 8

(Vertical) Robbie Amell, Stephen Amell, Sung Kang, Greg Byrk.  *insert gravelly trailer voice here* In a world where 4% of the world’s population has super powers, those with extraordinary gifts have been discriminated against and forced to live in poverty. A young power-enabled man who is fighting to survive and is drawn into a seedy underground of crime.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Superhero
Now Playing: Touchstar Southchase
Rating: NR

Hell on the Border

(Lionsgate) David Gyasi, Frank Grillo, Zahn McClarnon, Ron Perlman. This is the true story of Bass Reeves, who went from being an escaped slave during the Civil War to becoming the first African-American marshal in the American West.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Biographical Western
Now Playing: Premiere Fashion Square
Rating: R (for violence and language)

Mickey and the Bear

(Utopia) Camila Morrone, James Badge Dale, Calvin Demba, Ben Rosenfield. Mickey Peck works a job in a taxidermy shop in Anaconda, Montana. She must cope with her father, a veteran with severe PTSD who isn’t getting better, an oversexed boyfriend and her upcoming high school graduation – all without her late mother. This amazing first film from Annabelle Attanasio was recently reviewed by C365 – check the link in the section “Scheduled for Review” below.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for substance abuse, language throughout and some sexual material)

Richard Jewell

(Warner Brothers) Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm. Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort is the story of the security guard at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta who thwarted a bomb planted in Centennial Park and then wrongly came under suspicion for planting it there. The film has been controversial due to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution taking exception to the portrayal of its coverage and one of its reporters.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Biographical Drama
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for language including some sexual references, and brief bloody images)

The Two Popes

(Netflix) Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Hopkins, Juan Minujin, Sidney Cole. Pope Benedict, a staunch conservative, is the leader of a Catholic church in crisis. He soon develops a relationship with the cardinal who would one day become Pope Francis, one who has sought to reform the Church.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Enzian Theater
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic content and some disturbing violent images)

ALSO OPENING IN ORLANDO/DAYTONA:

The Body
Ernesto’s Manifesto
The Great War
Kettyolanu Ente Malakha
Line of Descent
Mamangam
The Mandela Effect
Mob Town
Venky Mama

ALSO OPENING IN MIAMI/FT. LAUDERDALE/KEY WEST:

6 Underground
The Body
Kettyolanu Ente Malakha
Line of Descent
Mamangam
Mardaani 2
One Cut of the Dead
Venky Mama

ALSO OPENING IN TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG/SARASOTA:

The Body
Fantastic Fungi
Mamangam
Mardaani 2
Rabid
Synonyms
Venky Mama

ALSO OPENING IN JACKSONVILLE/ST. AUGUSTINE:

The Aeronauts
Fantastic Fungi
Mamangam
Satantango

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Black Christmas
Fantastic Fungi
Jumanji: The Next Level
Mickey and the Bear
Rabid
Richard Jewell
Synonyms
The Two Popes

FILM FESTIVALS TAKING PLACE IN FLORIDA:

Vero Beach Wine + Film Festival at Sea, Port Everglades, FL

The First Purge


Viewers can now binge the Purge.

(2018) Thriller (Universal/BlumhouseY’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Patch Darragh, Marisa Tomei, Luna Lauren Velez, Kristen Solis, Rotimi Paul, Mo McRae, Jermel Howard, Siya, Christian Robinson, Steve Harris, Derek Basco, D.K. Bowser, Mitchell Edwards, Maria Rivera, Chyna Layne, Ian Blackman, Melonie Diaz. Directed by Gerard McMurray

 

The Purge series posits a somewhat fascist American government creating a 12=hour period annually during which all crime is legal, including murder. Those who can afford to leave, do – or they set up their homes as impenetrable fortresses. For the less wealthy, the alternative is to hunker down and ride it out, hoping the crazies won’t find them.

The latest film in the franchise (which has since also added a ten-episode “event” cable TV series, an ad for which appeared mid-credits at the film’s conclusion) goes back to the beginning, when the New Founding Fathers – the only political party standing – have emerged as the de facto rulers after an economic crisis has crippled the United States. Eager to purge the roles of welfare recipients and those getting federal assistance, they enlist a kooky psychiatrist (Tomei) to come up with a plan. The experiment is limited to Staten Island, where the government entices residents to stay by offering $5000 cash if they’ll wear contact lenses mounted with miniaturized cameras, giving everybody’s eyes a bizarre glow.

Nya (Davis) is having none of it. She sees the Purge for what it is – a racist attempt to take out the poor and the dark-skinned. Her ex-boyfriend Dmitri (Noel) is more pragmatic; he’s a drug dealer who is staying only because relocating his product would be too risky. So , with rival dealers seeing the Purge as an opportunity and other segments of the population throwing huge parties, oblivious to the danger that confronts them, and the government sending in hit squads when the violence isn’t enough to capture the imagination of the populous, Nya and Dmitri are going to have a very long night indeed.

There is no doubt that the series is allegorical, accurately predicting America’s turn towards extremism back in 2013 when the series debuted. The MAGA-like hat that decorated the poster was another clue; there’s even a reference to female genital grabbing if that isn’t enough. All in all, I’m not sure if Trump supporters are going to see this as elitist liberalism or a reactionary wet dream and respond accordingly.

The performances of the mostly unknown leads are solid enough and some of the murder scenes are cleverly staged but the movie is absolutely riddled with tropes and stock characters to the point that it becomes depressingly predictable. There are definitely signs that the franchise is losing its steam and doesn’t really have the courage of its convictions any longer. Still, those who appreciated the first three films in the series will likely appreciate this one, although they – like I – may not embrace it as a fitting addition to the franchise.

REASONS TO SEE: Some of the murder sequences are extremely effective.
REASONS TO AVOID: Too many clichés and way too predictable.
FAMILY VALUES: There is a plethora of often disturbing violence, some sexual content, profanity and drug use.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: This is the first film in the franchise not to be directed by James DeMonaco. Although he did write the screenplay.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Fandango Now, Fios, Google Play, Microsoft, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 11/23/19: Rotten Tomatoes: 54% positive reviews: Metacritic: 54//100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Assault on Precinct 13
FINAL RATING: 5/10
NEXT:
A Reindeer’s Journey