Capsule reviews for Jan. 5


It might resemble another Mean Girls wannabe on the surface, but this earnest high-school drama has more ambition and substance, even if the overall result is muddled in this directorial debut for 22-year-old Quinn Shephard. She also stars as Abigail, a socially awkward bullying victim of her cliquish classmates, specifically Melissa (Nadia Alexander), a cheerleader in her drama class. The feud escalates after Abigail flirts with a substitute teacher (Chris Messina), who chooses her over Melissa to play the lead in “The Crucible.” Although Shephard sensitively navigates some tricky moral territory, her film never achieves much of a deeper emotional resonance, despite some strong performances. (Not rated, 99 minutes).


Sheikh Jackson

While it has some offbeat charm, this innocuous but highly uneven Egyptian drama lacks the polished execution to match its heartfelt ambition. It follows a pious imam (Ahmad Alfishawy) whose devout faith seems unbroken until he hears about Michael Jackson’s death. That stirs memories, told in flashback, of his rebellious teenage obsession with the King of Pop, and how it contributed to an estrangement from his overbearing father (Maged El Kedwany). The screenplay by director Amr Salama conveys powerful messages about acceptance and forgiveness, although it could have benefited from a lighter touch. Unfortunately, the inability to license any of Jackson’s music is a crippling blow. (Not rated, 93 minutes).



A handful of stylish action sequences, including those involving speedboats and double-decker buses, can’t rescue this uninspired British thriller that feels like yet another cut-rate Jason Bourne knockoff. Stratton (Dominic Cooper) is an elite operative with the Special Boat Service, which is the English version of the Navy SEALs. His latest mission involves tracking a rogue Russian agent (Thomas Kretschmann) involved in chemical weapons plot, which also allows him to avenge the death of his American partner (Tyler Hoechlin). As the chases, shootouts and explosions pile up, so do the clichés, which derail any suspense the film might intermittently build amid its generic European locales. (Not rated, 94 minutes).