Recliner Reviews

June 11, 2014 

Chris Pine in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.”

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.

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”

This is the fifth film based on the character of Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy’s book series. He’s been played by Alec Baldwin and twice by Harrison Ford in the ’90s. Ben Affleck took a turn during his slump in the ’00s. Now, Chris Pine takes him on in this franchise reboot. Pine has proven he’s fearless – the dude did take on the iconic role of Capt. Kirk in the recent “Star Trek” reboot and pulled it off. Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branagh didn’t get his fill directing big-budget blockbusters with “Thor,” so he’s throwing in some international intrigue and going for it again. Branagh also plays the baddie. Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley also sign onto this doctored script by David Koepp (“Jurassic Park,” “Spiderman” and “Mission Impossible”). You’d think this is a no-brainer for an action-packed spy thriller. Not so fast. All the players do a nice job, and the film adds some great action scenes. But there’s just not enough intrigue, especially since the title boasts, “Shadow Recruit.” There are enough moments to make it barely worth a watch.

“Devil's Knot”

The first word that comes to mind about this film is - unnecessary. This is a fictional account of the murders at Robin Hood Hills, where three young men were convicted of killing three young boys in West Memphis, Ark., in 1994. Yes, it’s an important story. It’s so important that it’s been covered in four documentaries – the three “Paradise Lost” films, spanning back to 1996 and 2012’s “West of Memphis.” Now, 21 years after the murders occurred, art-house director Atom Egoyan wants to dig into the community, mine the emotions of the victims’ families and uncover the backasswardness of this case. The unlikely Reese Witherspoon plays the mother of one of the victims convincingly. The even more unlikely Colin Firth does a fair job playing a southern investigator looking for the truth. But the film is a bit of a mess and knotted up with too many unresolved ideas. Go watch the documentaries instead – pass.

“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones”

Here’s the deal – they will keep making these pieces of shit flicks as long as people keep watching these pieces of shit…so please, stop watching these pieces of shit. The reasons they keep making them are simple. At $5 million, they’re relatively cheap for a studio to produce. They don’t really use the same cast, so there’s no problem with scheduling. The script is basically the same reheated crap over and over. (Spoiler alert) People video everything, people start noticing strange occurrences on the videos, people research the strange occurrences on the Internet and miraculously stumble across answers. Then boom, people get thrown through the air and killed. Mark this one for the trash and watch another horror film…any other horror film, because this one is a definite pass.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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