' The Company You Keep'
3 stars = Good
Robert Redford and Shia LaBeouf star in this drama about a fugitive turned small-town lawyer hiding in plain sight (under an alias, of course) and the cocky, smart young newspaperman on his trail.
The reason to see it isn't so much the story but the dynamic cast assembled by Mr. Redford. In addition to hiring Richland singing prodigy Jackie Evancho to play his 11-year-old daughter, he secured Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Chris Cooper, Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott and Stephen Root.
The movie opens with the arrest of homemaker Sharon Solarz (Ms. Sarandon) for her role in a deadly Michigan bank robbery by the Weather Underground 30 years earlier. That cracks open the seal on the radicals and their anti-war actions decades earlier.
When an ambitious reporter, Ben Shepard (Mr. LaBeouf), in Albany, N.Y., starts to pursue the story, he lands in the office of a widowed single father and lawyer living nearby.
When he discovers that Jim Grant (Mr. Redford) is not Jim Grant but a fugitive wanted for murder, he sets off to learn the truth -- and maybe make a name for himself, too.
Based on the 2003 novel by Neil Gordon, "The Company You Keep" is more sprawling puzzle than cat-and-mouse thriller.
The key players weigh who they were, who they are and if their militant fires burn as brightly -- and that includes the reporter's pursuit of a national story that could change the trajectory of his career and his life.
Rated R for language.
Behind-the-scenes featurettes cover The Weather Underground, behind the scenes with the cast and the New York premiere. There's also a press conference with Redford, Evancho and supporting actors Stanley Tucci and Brit Marling.
' Olympus Has Fallen'
3 stars = Good
This takeover of the White House is no "Independence Day" with space aliens but an action thriller rooted in hyper-reality with Korean extremists as the main attackers.
Gerard Butler plays Mike Banning, a former Secret Service agent to President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) working in the Treasury Department when the White House becomes the scene of a bloodbath and hostage-taking.
The only man who can save the nation and president might be Banning.
"Olympus Has Fallen," directed by Homewood native Antoine Fuqua, is rated R for strong violence and language throughout, and you should take that seriously. There are car crashes, explosions, fires, attacks from the air and ground, the shearing off of landmarks, shocking executions and plenty of blood amid the nonstop action.
In addition to its virile leads, the cast includes Morgan Freeman as speaker of the House, Angela Bassett as head of the Secret Service and Melissa Leo as secretary of defense.
Married couple Creighton Rothenberger and University of Pittsburgh graduate Katrin Benedikt wrote the screenplay, their first. They believe in all muscle and no fat (not as appealing as it sounds) but give Mike a chance at redemption, although precious little backstory.
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.
' The Big Wedding'
Writer-director Justin Zackham has the benefit of an exceptional cast, which includes Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried and Robin Williams. Sadly, superior talent can propel a movie only so far.
The story, based on the 2006 Swiss-French film "Mon Frere Se Marie," launches just before the wedding of the Griffin family's youngest, adopted son. The fraught, joyous event promises to reunite the whole clan. The problem is that patriarch Don (Mr. De Niro) hasn't seen his ex-wife, Ellie (Ms. Keaton), in 10 years, and he's currently shacked up with her best friend, Bebe (Ms. Sarandon).
Further complicating things, daughter Lyla (Katherine Heigl) disdains her father, which is clear by the way she calls him by his first name, spitting out the single syllable like a bad grape. And that isn't all. The groom, Alejandro (Ben Barnes), invited his ultra-Catholic Colombian biological mother and sister to the nuptials. Fearing they may blanch at his adoptive parents' separation, he requests that Don and Ellie pretend to be married, just for the weekend.
As the movie trudges toward its conclusion, the script attempts to ferret out emotion from the audience. But it's tough to feel sympathy for a cad and his mostly mean-spirited family. Even those types who always cry at weddings will probably remain dry-eyed, not to mention feeling a little empty inside.
Contains crude language, sexual situations and nudity.
-- The Washington Post
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-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers