This weekend brings two British national treasures back to the big screen: Paddington Bear and Liam Neeson. One is warmly welcome, while the other is a little worn out. Both debut in wide release alongside a female contract killer thriller that I had no idea existed until yesterday.
The Weinstein Company and Dimension did a bad job of promoting the first ‘Paddington‘ stateside, so Studio Canal shuffled the sequel over to Warner Bros. and – what do you know? – potential moviegoers are actually aware of its existence. With the exception of the villainous Nicole Kidman, the entire gang (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Ben Whishaw, etc.) are back for ‘Paddington 2‘. In this round, the little bear is framed for a robbery and locked away in prison. While he tries to learn the system and make it through his ten-year sentence, his adoptive family, the Browns, attempt to crack the case, serve justice and bring Paddington home. Thanks to a solid story, likable characters, fun performances and a sweet little story, I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Paddington 2’ outgrosses the original.
The second-widest release is yet another thriller that places 65-year-old Liam Neeson in a sticky situation where he has to put his “special skills” to use. In ‘The Commuter‘, Neeson plays a former New York City cop who now lives in the suburbs and commutes into the Big Apple for a posh desk job. On the train ride home after a particular trying day, he’s confronted by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) who offers him $100,000 to identify a fellow rider that doesn’t belong. Needing the money, he takes the bait and quickly starts to understand the deadly stakes of this game. With a plot that’s predictable, spread thin and all-too-familiar, ‘The Commuter’ derails before getting to the final stop and manages to overstay its welcome by at least 20 minutes. However, if you liked Neeson’s ‘Taken’ movies and “Taken on a Plane” (a.k.a. ‘Non-Stop‘), then you probably won’t mind “Taken on a Train.”
I’ve not heard much about the female assassin movie ‘Proud Mary‘, but considering its lack of marketing and the fact that the MPAA just barely gave it a rating, I’m assuming that it’s not exactly at the top of Sony’s list either. Having said that, the trailer looks like an ‘Equalizer’-style slow-burner, and it just might be worth checking out. Taraji P. Henson showed off her acting talent in ‘Hidden Figures’. Now she gets to strut her action abilities as a hired assassin who ends up protecting a kid after a botched job. Little more than that is evident from the trailers and synopses, but that’s enough to pique my attention.
Coming fresh from the Golden Globes, where it received six nominations and zero awards, Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Post‘ expands nationwide after three weeks in limited release.
If you’re not into well-made historical dramas that parallel the woes of yesteryears with those we’re facing today, another special release is rolling out just in time for the big award shows. After watching ‘The Disaster Artist’ make nearly $25 million at the global box office, Tommy Wiseau is re-releasing ‘The Room‘ again.