New movie roundup: ‘Reminiscence,’ ‘The Protégé’ and more
CHICAGO - Whether you’re in a theater or streaming at home, movie choices exist in abundance, with more arriving every week. Here’s our take on what’s new, free, fun or all of the above.
‘Reminiscence’: A sci-fi noir that’s heavy on style and light on substance
Hugh Jackman as Nick Bannister in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action thriller "Reminiscence," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
"Westworld" co-creator Lisa Joy makes her feature film debut as both writer and director with this genre-bending mystery which, who would have guessed it, has quite a lot in common with "Westworld."
Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a veteran of a cataclysmic future war, is scraping out a living in Miami, now permanently flooded and awake only by night. His job is equal parts "Minority Report" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," helping lost and lonely people to fall into cherished moments from the past and freelancing for the district attorney’s office, mining memory for evidence. The film takes its first sharp left when Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) walks into the office, ostensibly to get help finding her keys.
Spoiler: it’s more complicated than that.
The world Joy conjures is fascinating, intellectually disorienting and visually rich. The performances, particularly those given by Ferguson and Thandiwe Newton (as Nick’s work partner and fellow veteran Watts), are equally compelling. But the story doesn’t equal those elements in excellence. Joy retreads familiar territory here, swapping the western elements of "Westworld" for the trappings of film noir, but while the "Westworld" characters wear costumes, it’s as if the film itself is the one dressed up — and there’s not much beneath that layer.
If you’re looking to be swept away by emotional storytelling, "Reminiscence" isn’t likely to provide it. But if Hugh Jackman floating past neon-drenched skyscrapers in his water taxi as he tries to solve a mystery appeals, you’re in luck.
Rated PG-13. 114 minutes. In theaters and on HBO Max now. Written and directed by Lisa Joy. Featuring: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Daniel Wu, Brett Cullen, Natalie Martinez and Angela Sarafyan.
‘The Protégé’: A boilerplate spy movie with a cast that sizzles
Maggie Q in "The Protegé" (Photo: Raul Jichici/Lionsgate)
Every once in awhile, a movie comes along and announces itself as the type of film you’re going to see around half of, many times over. It’s a cable movie — if you stumble across it on TNT, it’s staying on until the very end, and all the laundry will get folded. "The Protegé" is one such movie. It won’t blow your mind, but it more than gets the job done, and sometimes that’s more than enough.
Anna (Maggie Q) is the titular protégé, plucked out of a bloodbath as a child and given a life (and a trade) by her mentor, Moody (Samuel L. Jackson). They kill bad people for money and do not feel even a little bit conflicted about it. In addition to her work as a terrifying assassin, Anna also owns a rare book shop, and one day a man (Michael Keaton) strolls in and some mean, sexy sparks fly.
To say more is to give away the twisty (if boilerplate) plot, but suffice it to say all hell breaks loose, and Anna finds herself on a quest for revenge she’s unlikely to survive.
That she manages the feat for even half the film is ludicrous, but who cares? This is the kind of action flick in which the fights are bloody, fast and ruthless, and the most innocuous objects can soon become deadly weapons. Q and Keaton, an unconventional pairing that somehow work brilliantly together, manage to imbue all their scenes (and their battles in particular) with a kind of bloodthirsty frankness. This is the world these characters live in, and neither is interested in the saving of souls.
"I could put two in the back of your head and go make a sandwich," one character says as the film nears its explosive finale, and it’s all too easy to believe. Screenwriter Richard Wenk’s storytelling isn’t exactly scintillating, and the clever dialogue sometimes crosses over into eye-rolling territory, but the game cast and sharp direction from Martin Campbell("Casino Royale") more than compensate.
Oscar bait, it ain’t — but it’s a damn good time.
Rated R. 109 minutes. In theaters now. Written and directed by Lisa Joy. Featuring: Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Patrick.
More new movies
"PAW Patrol: The Movie" -- L-R: Zuma (voiced by Shayle Simons), Rocky (voiced by Callum Shoniker), Skye (voiced by Lilly Bartlam), Chase (voiced by Iain Armitage), Marshall (voiced by Kingsley Marshall), and Rubble (voiced by Keegan Hedley) in PAW PA
- "PAW Patrol: The Movie": Adventure City is in trouble and only the hero pups can save the day (from, as you might guess, some really evil kitty-cats). Rated G. 76 minutes. Now in theaters and streaming on Paramount+. Tyler Perry, Iain Armitage, Marsai Martin, Jimmy Kimmel, Randall Park, Yara Shahidi.
- "Annette": This one’s not for the faint of heart. French auteur Leos Carax turns his one-of-a-kind to an original music from cult pop duo Sparks, one which follows a complicated, epic romance between a stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and an opera singer (Marion Cotillard). Rated R. 141 minutes. Arrived in theaters earlier this month, now streaming on Amazon Prime. Also features Simon Helberg.
- "Sweet Girl": In the grand tradition of "Alien vs. Predator" and "Godzilla vs. Kong," it’s Jason Momoa vs. Big Pharma! Rated R. 109 minutes. Now streaming on Amazon Prime. Also features Isabela Merced, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Amy Brenneman, Justin Bartha, Lex Scott Davis.
- "The Night House": "Actress Rebecca Hall grounds the ever-shifting film as it transforms from what seems like a straightforward ghost story into something murkier, more troubling and thoroughly unshakeable." Read the rest of Roxana Hadadi’s review here. Rated R. 108 minutes. In theaters now. Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Vondie Curtis-Hall and Evan Jonigkeit.
- "Flag Day": "Ultimately, it’s a character-driven movie that pulls at the heartstrings. That’s thanks, in no small part, to [Sean] Penn and his daughter, Dylan Penn — and their performances are likely to linger long after the credits roll." Read the rest of Stephanie Weaver’s review here. Rated R. 108 minutes. In select theaters now. Dylan Penn, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Norbert Leo Butz, Dale Dickey, Eddie Marsan, Bailey Noble, Hopper Jack Penn, Katheryn Winnick.
Now streaming free: "Coyote Lake"
Tubi is now the exclusive free-streaming home for the 2019 thriller "Coyote Lake," starring "Riverdale" standout Camila Mendes and Adriana Barraza, an Oscar nominee for her turn in 2006’s "Babel." Director Sara Seligman — working from a script co-written by Seligman and Thomas James Bond — follows Ester and Teresa (Mendes and Barraza), and mother and daughter who run a bed-and-breakfast near the border between the U.S. and Mexico. When two unwanted guests arrive, all hell breaks loose, and not only due to the chaos that arrives in their wake. It turns out Ester and Teresa have a big secret of their own, and it threatens to upend everything. TV-MA. 93 minutes. Camila Mendes, Adriana Barraza. Tubi is owned by the FOX Corporation.
More free movies, ripe for the picking on Tubi
- "The Guest": A creepy Dan Stevens stars in this bloody 2014 thriller, in which a family welcomes "an army vet claiming to have served with their dead son" into their home, only to find they’ve opened the door for an absolutely bloodbath. Rated R. 100 minutes. Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick, Ethan Embry.
- "Sing Street": John Carney (the force behind the marvelous romance "Once") turns in another gem of a musical in this 2016 coming-of-age story, which boasts a terrific cast and a score that will stick with you — particularly "Drive it Like You Stole it," which is what you might call an immortal bop. Rated PG-13. 106 minutes. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor.
- "A Walk in the Woods": Based on Bill Bryson’s 1998 autobiographical book of the same name, this lighthearted 2015 film sees Bill (Robert Redford) and friend Stephen (Nick Nolte) set out to hike the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. Rated R. 104 minutes. Emma Thompson, Kristen Schaal, Nick Offerman, Mary Steenburgen.
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Tubi is owned by the FOX Corporation.
About the writer: Allison Shoemaker is a Chicago-based pop-culture critic and journalist. She is the author of "How TV Can Make You Smarter," and a member of the Television Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association. She is also a producer and co-host for the Podlander Presents network of podcasts. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @allisonshoe. Allison is a Tomatometer-approved Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes.