Archives for posts with tag: movie reviews

Buried beneath a pile of hillbilly inelegance is a pretty solid performance by Robin Wright as a burnt-out junkie mom. Beyond that, there’s isn’t much to recommend “Devil’s Peak” (2023). Billy Bob Thornton basically plays himself as Appalachian Walter White whose kinfolk traded moonshine for meth at some point. Wright’s son in blood and acetate is set to inherit this backwoods kingdom, but Hopper Penn plays the role as if both he and the character don’t want to be there. The suspense over whether the teen gets out or is dragged down is formulaic trashy tragedy, but better than nothing.

Warning: I’m going to sort-of spoil “Destroyer” (2018) for you. Nicole Kidman uglies herself up to play a burnt-out detective with one last shot to close the case that’s haunted her for 17 years. It felt like “Rush: The Later Years” or a dark take on “Saving Grace.” We keep going back and forth between her ill-fated days undercover and her current attempt to find resolution. I was kind of getting into it, although there’s too much I’ve-been-a-bad-mommy subplot. But the film buries a lie in the back-and-forth to create a plot twist, and I don’t like being lied to.

Mix a World War II flick (ragtag bunch becomes lean, mean fighting machine) with a martial arts flick (bloodily elaborate fight scenes), plus a smidge of “Real Housewives of West Africa” and you’ve pretty much got “The Woman King” (2022). Viola Davis plays the tough-as-nails leader of a crack, nineteenth century fighting unit. She’s beset by better equipped foes, palace intrigue and past trauma. Meanwhile, new recruits go through basic training. Cue the climactic battle scene, followed by a fit-for-Oprah denouement. It’s above-average, extremely violent entertainment for general audiences, with slave-trade subplot complexities that may resonate more deeply for some.