Movie reviews: 'The Promise' and 'Free Fire' set to open in theaters on April 21
Open Road Films, 2017.

The big movie in theaters right now is still "The Fate of the Furious," which shattered all records, falling just shy of 100 million domestically on opening weekend. It became the largest international opening weekend ever though, with over 500 million raked in around the globe. This weekend's movies don't have the same universal appeal or expectations, to say the least.

Here are reviews of the movies hitting theaters this weekend, April 21, 2017:


“The Promise”

Not to be confused with that OTHER Armenian genocide movie, "The Ottoman Lieutenant," (which was released earlier this year) The Promise," does a much better job of capturing the horrific tragedies that occurred in Turkey around the turn of the 20th Century. Oscar Isaac stars as Mikael, an Armenian with dreams of studying medicine at a famous institute in Constantinople. Not having the funds to do so, he marries a local girl from his village, which presents a bit of a dilemma for him when he falls for the beautiful dancer, Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), once in Turkey. To complicate matters further, Ana is in a relationship with an American journalist, Chris Myers (Christian Bale), who is in Turkey to chronicle the atrocities being committed by the Ottoman Empire. The "Armenian Holocaust" saw the systematic termination of over 1.5 million Armenians, and as this starts off as the backdrop for a sultry love-triangle (or rectangle), it soon comes to the forefront of the story. The second-half of "The Promise" becomes a survival story, as Mikael tries not only to save his family but to save Ana, all the while trying to honor his commitments back home. "The Promise" is a strange title for this movie, and for being set in an exotic location, it is not that interesting of a movie visually. Isaac and Bale are always good, and there is a very strong one-scene performance from veteran actor James Cromwell, but none of this is enough to pump life into the limp, slow and bland first hour. A shorter, tighter, better version of this movie may have existed somewhere within this over-long drama. Better than "The Ottoman Lieutenant," yes, but this unspeakable real-life monstrosity is stil waiting for its cinematic "Schindler's List." Grade: C+.

Genre: Drama, History, War. Run Time: 2 hours 8 minutes. Rated PG-13. Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale, Angela Sarafyan, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Numan Acar. Co-Written and Directed by Terry George ("Stand Off," "Reservation Road," "Hotel Rwanda").

“Free Fire”

"Free Fire" is the worst kind of movie: A stylish crime-comedy that thinks it is cooler than it really is. Boiled down to its essence, it is a 90-minute stand-off sequence, where a bunch of seedy criminals point and shoot guns at each other ad's as if the standoff scene from "Resevoir Dogs" was stretched out and given its own movie. It concerns an arms deal gone bad, and we're given no "good guys" or "bad guys" to side with, just different shades of crook. Brie Larson is the only female in the movie, which is appropriate since this is a movie made for male audiences. Other characters are played by Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley, Sam Riley, Noah Taylor and Sharlto Copley, and I won't bother giving more details than that since they are all pretty interchangeable. Save for a street scene that opens the film, the entirety of the movie takes place in an abandoned warehouse, and the only reason nobody leaves is that every single person involved gets wounded. So if the bullets and non-stop gun blasts don't make you exit the theater, the constant grunting and yelling coming from numerous men and women dragging their bodies around just might. This might have worked as a short film, but it feels like the extended DVD release of a single scene taken from a better, funnier, cooler crime film that we never get to see. From top to bottom, this is one of the most illogical, worst films thus far in 2017. Or to hit the nail on the head, it's a total mis-fire. Grade: F.

Genre: Action, Crime, Comedy. Run Time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Rated R. Starring: Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Michael Smiley, Sam Riley, Enzo Cilenti. Co-Written and Directed by Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise," "A Field in England," ""Sightseers," "Kill List," "Down Terrace").


This film was not reviewed.

“The Lost City of Z”

This film was not reviewed.

All of these movies open locally on Friday, April 21, 2017 (check for showtimes).

Next week movies include: "The Circle."

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