A Brief Word on New Releases: “Patriot’s Day” and “Underworld: Blood Wars”

By Andrew Buckner

PATRIOT’S DAY

Rating: **** out of *****.

Patriot’s Day (2016), which chronicles the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the investigation it spawned, is an absolute knockout! Director and co-writer Peter Berg’s penchant for quiet moments of domestic character drama as well as claustrophobic, credible and tense action scenes shines through every frame of the film’s one-hundred-and-thirty-three-minute runtime. Stars Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon and John Goodman are especially good in their respective turns. This is even if their on-screen personas could stand to be better developed. They also should’ve been given more dimension. There is also no insight whatsoever into the reasoning behind our reality based antagonists’ tragic dealings. Still, this does little to dilute the exceptional overall result.

Though it isn’t quite on par with Berg’s masterpiece Lone Survivor (2013), this uncompromising and appropriately gritty work comes awfully close. Berg’s latest is an emotionally layered and transcendent exhibition of craftsmanship. The concluding minutes are especially poignant. This appropriate send-off nicely balances out the nearly non-stop intrigue and deftly executed chase story suspense that came beforehand. Such further creates a well-rounded and admirable cinematic experience. This is a harrowing journey. It is one that, though rather routinely structured, is certainly worth taking.

(R). Contains adult language and violence.

Available now on video on demand.

UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS

Rating: **1/2 out of *****.

There is always a sense of urgency in the full-length feature debut of director Anna Foerster’s Underworld: Blood Wars (2016). This endures even in the dialogue heavy second act. The ninety-one-minute effort also sports stunning, handsome cinematography from Karl Walter Lindenlaub. Furthermore, there is a wonderfully gothic feel, present in the four other movies in this series, which is as modern as it is reminiscent of an archetypically circa 1960’s-1970’s Hammer Films horror entry. Additionally, Kate Beckinsale does an adequate job in her portrayal of our Vampire Death Dealer heroine, Selene. This is considering the one-dimensional material she is once again handed. Also, the action packed climactic twenty minutes prove a satisfying distraction. Likewise, Foerster’s behind the lens contribution is slick and stylish.

Yet, it is hard to ignore the fact that if you have seen any of the other Underworld pictures, you have already seen this latest installment. The laughable computer generated imagery and uninvolving plot also hinders this ongoing werewolves versus bloodsuckers tale immeasurably. There are also plenty of gaping holes in the broadly painted and moderately written screenplay from Cory Goodman. When combined with recycled shots and footage, the unyielding impression that this is but another unimaginative, assembly-line Hollywood product prevails. The result is a fair, but mostly forgettable, experience. Skip it.

(R). Contains violence.

Available on video on demand today.

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