Non-Stop (4 out of 5 swans): Despite a huge plot hole at the end that it’s best not to think about, and a first killing that doesn’t correspond to the story, this is Liam Neeson’s almost-annual beginning of the year thriller and it lives up to his past efforts exemplified by the “Taken” series. Neeson is so good I wish he were playing James Bond.
3 Days to Kill (2 out of 5 swans): Directed by McG, this is a schizophrenic movie that can’t decide whether it’s a thriller or a comedy or a family drama. Whichever, all are below par. Kevin Costner plays Kevin Costner again and he’s good at that. The best performance is by Connie Nielsen who plays a wife who feels she has been wronged by her husband, but is still in love with him. Hailee Steinfeld also gives a good, if range-restricted, performance as a headstrong teenager in Paris. Worse though are the now apparently obligatory car chases that are little short of idiotic.
Winter’s Tale (4 out of 5 swans): This is an intriguing, metaphysical fantasy highlighted by crackling chemistry between Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay, and a good turn by Russell Crowe as a semi-immortal demon, marred only by a less than lackluster performance by Will Smith as Lucifer, a role that could have been made magical by Jack Cassidy were he still alive. Akiva Goldsman, in his directorial debut, exhibits a deft touch in converting Mark Helprin’s 700 page romantic novel covering 1895 to 2014 to film, getting a big boost from Caleb Deschanel’s evocative, atmospheric cinematography. The revered Eva Marie Saint makes a noteworthy appearance in a cameo.
RoboCop (3 out of 5 swans): My question, even before I saw this, is why? Why do a remake with a script so similar that the original screenwriters are given almost full credit? Says director José Padilha about the 1987 movie, “I think it’s a brilliant film, an iconic classic.” Maybe it is. If so, why remake it? Would he repaint Mona Lisa or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Casablanca fits his description of a “brilliant film, an iconic classic.” Would he remake that with, maybe, George Clooney as Rick (I shudder at the thought)? Now we have two Robocops that are virtual carbon copies of one another, although this one is less violent and much blander, aided, however, by a sparkling good cast. Take your pick.