Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Taken 3 Is Less Than Captivating

Plus, Selma and Marvel's Agent Carter are Certified Fresh.

by | January 9, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a man on the run (Taken 3, starring Liam Neeson and Forest Whitaker) and a civil rights hero (Selma, starring David Oyelowo and Tom Wilkinson). What do the critics have to say?

Taken 3

13%

Taken helped to establish Liam Neeson as Hollywood’s go-to middle-aged tough guy. But critics say what was once fresh has become formulaic, as Taken 3 (like its predecessor) is an over-caffeinated action fest elevated by Neeson’s presence but diminished by its absurd plot. This time out, our hero is framed for the murder of his wife, and must outwit the various cops and intelligence agents on his trail in order to find the real killers. The pundits say that any film with Neeson and Forest Whitaker is sure to contain moments worth watching, but overall Taken 3 is too slackly paced and frenetically edited to work as a giddy pleasure. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of old guys who still bring the pain.)

Selma

99%

It’s not easy for a movie to bring history to life, and it’s even more difficult to capture the atmosphere and drama of an event from recent memory. But critics say that’s what director Ava DuVernay has done with Selma, a searing, vital drama that taps into of one of the Civil Rights era’s most tumultuous moments and features an astonishing performance from David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s an account of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches, where demonstrators met serious resistance at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama, as well as from local and national politicians. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Selma is powerfully acted, beautifully shot, and, above all, emotionally resonant — in short, one of the best films of the year.

Certified Fresh on TV:

The pundits say that the focus on on Peggy Carter as a person first and an action hero second makes Marvel’s Agent Carter (Certified Fresh at 96 percent) a winning, stylish drama with bursts of excitement and an undercurrent of cheeky fun (check out our interview with star Hayley Atwell here).

Critics say that while it’s heavy on melodrama, Empire (Certified Fresh at 86 percent) elevates the nighttime soap with its top-notch cast, musical entertainment, and engrossing plots.

The pundits say that while the jokes in Galavant (Certified Fresh at 83 percent) ride the line of predictability, their execution, along with campy themes and silly musical numbers, make it memorably entertaining.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Valley Of Saints, a drama about a man whose attempts to escape a life of poverty are stymied by a military curfew in the disputed Kashmir region, is at 100 percent.
  • Farewell, Herr Schwarz, a documentary about a reunion of siblings who survived the Holocaust, is at 88 percent.
  • Preservation, a thriller about three people on a camping trip who are menaced by sinister figures, is at 80 percent.
  • Predestination, starring Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook in a sci-fi thriller about a time-traveling special agent tasked with stopping a terrorist attack, is at 77 percent.
  • Beloved Sisters, a period drama about the relationship between two sisters and a celebrated poet, is at 75 percent.
  • The World Made Straight, starring Minka Kelly and Noah Wyle in a drama about a troubled teenager who yearns to escape his small-town existence, is at 70 percent.
  • When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism, a meta-drama about a filmmaker and his complex relationship with his film’s leading lady, is at 70 percent.
  • It’s All So Quiet, a drama about a Dutch farmer dealing with the impending death of his father and his own suppressed homosexuality, is at 67 percent.
  • La última película, a comedy about a pretentious director who makes a nuisance of himself on location at Mayan historical sites, is at 67 percent.
  • Black November, starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger in a drama about a group of Nigerian rebels who kidnap an oil company executive to hold him accountable for his unethical dealings in their country, is at 20 percent.
  • Dark Summer, a thriller about a teenager under house arrest who’s bedeviled by a mysterious visitor, is at 17 percent.

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