Capsule reviews for March 3


The title might accurately describe the impact to moviegoers of this relentlessly violent action saga from Indonesia, which stars Iko Uwais (The Raid) as a stranger who arrives in an island village with amnesia, and is nursed back to health at a local hospital. Not long afterward, however, he becomes the target of ruthless gangsters and assassins while still uncertain about his own identity, let alone why these guys want him dead. Yet while his memory is still fuzzy, his fighting skills remain sharp, leading to a barrage of visually dazzling martial-arts sequences. Genre aficionados might enjoy the ultraviolent intensity, even if the result feels repetitive. (Not rated, 118 minutes).


The Institute

Among the afflictions plaguing this unintentionally humorous gothic medical thriller are a severe lack of subtlety and coherence, not to mention wobbly performances and direction. The story, apparently inspired by true events, takes place at a sanitarium in late 1900s Baltimore, where a young aristocrat (Allie Gallerani) admits herself due to various psychological troubles. But her treatment only leads to nightmares, both literally and figuratively, which she realizes is due to the sinister staff. The tedious film traverses familiar lurid territory involving resourceful heroines and corrupt physicians, squandering a cast that includes James Franco (who also co-directed), Josh Duhamel, Lori Singer and Tim Blake Nelson. (Not rated, 98 minutes).


The Last Word

A powerhouse performance by Shirley MacLaine is the only reason to get anywhere near this otherwise sappy and predictable vehicle about aging and redemption from director Mark Pellington (Arlington Road). MacLaine portrays Harriet, a retired advertising executive whose sour attitude has turned her into a pathetic loner. After rifling through the obituaries, she commissions a journalist (Amanda Seyfried) to pen her own obit — except there’s nothing nice to say. So the duo sets out to change that. The scenery-chewing star might not generate sympathy for her cantankerous character, but she makes an otherwise heavy-handed comedy more watchable with sheer charisma. Still, the result is hardly life-affirming. (Rated R, 108 minutes).



Style trumps substance in this atmospheric and mildly creepy low-budget thriller, which follows a photographer (Abbie Cornish) who is diagnosed with mild amnesia following a car accident, which causes her to experience hallucinations tied to past trauma in her life. She has a particular fondness for pictures of old houses, which prompts her to visit the family farm where she grew up, now operated by her uncle (Dermot Mulroney), to sort things out. Unfortunately, some stylish visuals from director Ed Gass-Donnelly (The Last Exorcism Part II) support a screenplay that bogs down in contrivances and fails to build consistent suspense. It’s more build-up than payoff. (Not rated, 92 minutes).



On the basketball court, this gritty drama has some scoring ability. But off the court, it’s an unconvincing mess of clichés about sports betting, fractured families and teenage rivalries. Anthony (Taylor John Smith) is a star guard at a New York private school with a supportive mom (Carla Gugino) and an Ivy League future. The primary obstacle to his dreams, however, is his father (Michael Shannon), an alcoholic college professor with some major debts because of his gambling habits. Those stories converge in the third act of the screenplay by director Bart Freundlich (The Rebound), although any suspense or rooting interest is compromised by heavy-handed contrivances. (Rated R, 109 minutes).