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Sicario 2, Uncle Drew and Good Movies This Weekend

Hope Madden Hope Madden Sicario 2, Uncle Drew and Good Movies This WeekendPhotos via IMDb.
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  • Sumo

Surfing, mountain climbing, basketball, visits to Mexico—basically, this week at the box office is like the summer vacation you don’t have time for and can’t afford! How should you spend your pretend time off? We have some thoughts.

Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado

by Hope Madden

Can Sicario: Day of the Soldado accomplish as much insightful commentary, intimate drama and visceral action as Sicario, Denis Villeneuve’s riveting 2015 peek behind the curtains of the drug war?

The first piece of great news: writer Taylor Sheridan returns, scripting another border war with the cartels, this time focused less on drugs, more on smuggling terrorists across to the U.S.

Now for the bad news. Visionary director Villeneuve does not return, nor does legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins. Or Emily Blunt.

Dude, that hurts.

But del Toro and Brolin are back, and they were so fun last time. Brolin’s brash, deceptively easygoing Matt Graver has another mission requiring that he get dirty, which means more work for his favorite operative, played with shadowy precision by del Toro.

Dariusz Wolski is a gifted cinematographer, but he’s no Roger Deakins, whose brutal cinematic lyricism gave Sicario its arresting beauty.

Gone, too, are Graver’s eccentricities. Though Brolin’s performance is strong, the character himself has become little more than the traditional conflicted mercenary.

Likewise, del Toro is given a more ordinary man’s role. Not entirely ordinary, but that enigma that haunted Sicario serves more to keep the story moving forward, his time on screen rarely allowing a glimpse at who he is.

It sounds like it’s all bad news, and it’s not. Director Stefano Sollima serves up a fine, edgy piece of action for the summer. It’s just that I’d hoped for more.

Grade: B-

Uncle Drew

by George Wolf

So Kyrie Irving has parlayed his Pepsi commercial into a full-length Uncle Drew feature?

As a Cleveland sports fan, I’m conflicted, I ain’t even gonna lie.

What made the original Uncle Drew work was the prank. He put on the makeup, disrupted a blacktop game, then schooled the youngbloods, Borat-style. The fun was being in on the stunt.

That jig is up, and expanding a marketing idea to feature length means filling the void with more basketball stars in disguise, a few reliable comedians and some warmed-over attempts at life lessons.

In true Blues Brothers fashion, Drew reforms his (very) old band (Shaq, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson) to break some ankles and get some buckets.

With a cast light on actors and a script light on substance, director Charles Stone III (Drumline) has his hands full. He tries to balance the athletes’ often painful emoting with the solid timing of the actual comics (Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll), and a few good laughs come out in the process (mainly in the first act and the closing blooper reel).

Basketball fans will appreciate a few self-aware inside gags (Chris Webber is a good sport), but with the novelty of the superstar-in-disguise long gone, Uncle Drew feels like little more than the corporate branding love child of Pepsi and Nike.

Grade: C-


by Hope Madden

Quiet poetry is hardly what we’ve come to expect from a surf movie. But actor-turned-director Simon Baker offers exactly that in his elegantly familiar coming-of-age story, Breath.

Based on Tim Winton’s novel, the film follows two mates in coastal Australia as their childhood friendship faces the snarls of the onset of adulthood.

Pikelet (Samson Coulter) —a beautiful gangle of limbs and promise—is the only child of a humble but loving family. He and Loonie (Ben Spence) are inseparable, though their futures are destined to veer in wildly different directions. Before that happens, they will tumble toward adulthood on some dangerous waves.

The lads find an unlikely mentor in the form of a bohemian surfer. Bodhi…no, I’m lying. His name is Sando (Baker), and for every one of Point Break’s Hollywood-slick moments of waves, wisdom and gleaming tan, Sando offers authentic surf-tossed ruggedness and reflection.

This film is less about that one big one, the one that’ll make you famous. It’s entirely about the journey, the solitude and the fear—what an individual can make of those elements, what those elements make of an individual.

Though Baker directed a number of episodes of his TV show The Mentalist, Breath represents his first venture into feature filmmaking. He shows a knack for authenticity and understatement—two elements sorely lacking in coming-of-age dramas, not to mention surf films.

Grade: B+


by George Wolf

“How big a screen ya got?”

That’s what you need to be asking for Mountain, a nature documentary that puts the breathtake in breathtaking.

Director and co-writer Jennifer Peedom provides a majestic canvas for the truly stunning cinematography of Renan Ozturk, gracefully pondering the evolution of humankind’s quest to climb upward.

Intermittent narration from Willem Dafoe dots the landscape of footage from the world’s highest peaks, and though the writing seems overly dramatic at first (“the holy or the hostile…nothing in between”) the sheer grandeur of what you’re seeing quickly demands nothing less.

From swooping aerial shots featuring tiny species of humanity to tight, miraculous skiing sequences a la Warren Miller, Mountain beautifully reminds us how truly small we remain. For those enthralled by such things (my hand is up) it might as well be mountain porn, questioning our fascination even as it’s feeding it.

But again: big screen.

Grade: A-

Also opening in Columbus:
Animal World (NR)
Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi (NR)
The Gospel According to Andre (PG-13)
Hearts Beat Loud (PG-13)
Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town (R)
Sanju (NR)
This Is Congo (NR)
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (NR)

Read more from Hope and team at MADDWOLF and listen to her weekly film podcast, THE SCREENING ROOM.


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