John Wick: Chapter 2
Fans of the ultraviolent action saga that spawned this sequel will find mostly more of the same in this follow-up, which provides another star vehicle for Keanu Reeves in the title role — a heroic hitman who’s lured out of retirement, again, by a promise to repay a debt involving the elimination of an Italian crime syndicate. So he jets to Rome for showdowns with various thugs and henchmen. This latest exercise in style over substance at least showcases another round of thrilling shootouts, chases and fight sequences that helps to cover up narrative formula with visual bravado. Yet overall, this installment feels more familiar than fresh. (Rated R, 122 minutes).
Land of Mine
We’ve seen plenty of big-screen stories about the horrors during World War II, but this perceptive drama explores the volatile aftermath as seen through the eyes of a group of young German prisoners of war who are forced to methodically find and disarm thousands of landmines along the western coast of Denmark. The conflicted sergeant (Roland Moller) in charge of the operation expresses both abusive hostility and quiet compassion toward the plight of the soldiers. The script by Danish director Martin Zandvliet mostly avoids heavy-handed contrivances and offers an intriguing perspective on true-life historical events. The result is both suspenseful and harrowing. (Rated R, 101 minutes).
You want to root for the ambitious debut of 16-year-old filmmaker Jack Fessenden, even if this low-budget crime thriller is more noteworthy for its flashes of gritty visual style than its thin and amateurish screenplay. Fessenden stars as a mischievous teenager who, along with a friend (Asa Spurlock), is sent to clean out his father’s abandoned mobile home. That’s where they become caught up in with a trio of criminals who have fled nearby and decide to take some hostages. Some nice atmospheric touches are hardly warranted by the film’s threadbare substance. It’s a pretentious mess to be admired more for its effort than its execution. (Not rated, 83 minutes).