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Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012

Recliner Reviews for Dec. 27, 2012

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Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.

“Looper”

Bruce Willis loves to time travel. With “12 Monkeys,” he helped give sci-fi films a dirty new direction in the ‘90s. Some of Willis’ best work has been in the sci-fi genre. As has, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose career began as the kid on “Third Rock from the Sun,” but he’s been strategic in his film decisions and he’s hitting his stride as a real movie star. Gordon-Levitt plays a younger version of Willis in this mind-bending plot and he’s spot-on, hitting Willis’ off-kilter grin and the crazy eyes. Writer/director Rian Johnson creates a great futuristic noir theme and makes fun of his own retro vibe in the script. Every character is pivotal in tension building. Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels all add to the overall dynamic of making Gordon-Levitt shine. This film doesn’t repeat the sins of the past and makes for an intelligent movie as you head into a new year – worth a watch.

“Total Recall”

This isn’t really a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger, as much as it’s a new film based on the Phillip K. Dick story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale." Yes, there are tributes throughout to the original film and the overall story is the same, but the tone is very different and this delivery is a breakneck pace. The cast is solid – Colin Farrell in the lead, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel play futuristic femme fatales. Len Wiseman of the first two “Underworld” movies directs. Farrell and Beckinsale are electric and their energy sparks the first half of the film. The fight and chase scenes take your breath and leave you exhausted for a second half that is bogged down and unclear. The verdict: The first half is worth a watch, the second half is worth a nap.

“The Bourne Legacy”

As always, this installment overlaps a continuing story from the previous film in the franchise. In the other films, featuring Matt Damon, they tied the plot together and upped the ante against the one-man-army, Jason Bourne. The problem here is there’s no Jason Bourne. There’s Jeremy Renner playing Aaron Cross, a side note to the Bourne conspiracy story. And Renner doesn’t want to confuse audiences so he plays Cross as a nice guy super-agent, like a Frankenstein coming to learn emotions. All of the other aspects of the franchise are there – chases and bad-ass fights and a battle for identity. They even add some sci-fi aspects of gene splicing but it feels like they tried to bulk up the story to make up for Damon’s absence. That includes the great actors, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton, who try to explain why they’re doing any of this. If the “Bourne Trilogy” didn’t exist, this would be a fine film – as it stands, it’s a misstep on the back of a giant – barely worth a watch.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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