Hollywood’s most unlikely leading man, Mark Wahlberg, looks nonplussed from the start (nothing new there) in old-fashioned crime thriller BROKEN CITY (15: Studio Canal).
He plays Billy Taggart, a cop forced to quit the NYPD to avoid a scandal over the shooting of a suspect. Seven years later, he’s struggling to make ends meet as a private eye.
But New York’s mayor (a sneering Russell Crowe) offers the detective a load of money during a re-election campaign to find out if his wife (Catherine Zeta Jones) is having an affair. When the other man turns out to be the campaign manager for the mayor’s election opponent, Taggart slowly realises he’s mixed up in more than a case of infidelity.
Murder follows and a web of political corruption is revealed, but there’s little actual surprise here. The film might have got away with the pedestrian story if the characters had been more complex and the pieces of the puzzle had not slotted together so easily.
> I bet you always wondered what happened to Hansel and Gretel once they roasted that witch in the gingerbread house.
According to HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (15: Paramount), the fast and furious all-action continuation of the classic fairy tale, the sibling slayers (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) became bounty hunters.
Their latest assignment is tracking a powerful witch bitch (Famke Janssen) who is kidnapping local children for sacrifice at a forthcoming Blood Moon Sabbath.
The language is salty, yet you can’t take anything too seriously in this very silly romp through Brothers Grimm land, peppered with trolls, demons and witchfinder generals. But the film gives prominence to the grislier dimensions of the quest, complete with crushed heads, chopped limbs and gushers of gore, so this amiable fable is strictly for grown-ups.
> Arterton also appears, this time alongside old acting pros Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave, in SONG FOR MARION (PG: Entertainment One), a shamelessly feel-good film about life, death,love and finding a voice.
Redgrave is Marion, who has terminal cancer but derives comfort by singing in a pensioners’ choir. Her husband, Arthur (Stamp), is caring yet curmudgeonly, a man of few words and even fewer outward emotions.
He’s disparaging about her involvement with the choir, which is run with enthusiasm by Elizabeth (Arterton), injecting much-needed youthful energy. But when tragedy strikes, the choir calms Arthur’s rage, allowing him to find inner peace and a new lease of life.
Some watching this dyed-in-the-wool weepie might shed a tear or two, though others may find it corny, manipulative and downright cringe-making.
> MOVIE 43 (15: Momentum) is an anthology of short comedy clips and skits that doesn’t so much push back the boundaries of taste and decency as totally ignore them.
Included are a speed-dating event for superheroes, a bizarre blind date and a kidnapping where the hostage is a leprechaun.
It proves Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Gerard Butler, Uma Thurman, Richard Gere and other stars have a sense of humour, though maybe one that outstrips their sense of taste.