Chloe Moretz Denzel Washington

Some Movies Out This Weekend

Friday, September 26, 2014 Rob Samuelson

Usually my caveat of, "This is not meant to be a complete overview of every movie out this weekend," applies, but there are only two new movies opening this week in wide release.  I actually had to look up the limited releases to find something intriguing. You will be able to find the third listing at a handful of theaters around Chicago if you're so inclined.

Opening this week, September 26, 2014.

The Equalizer
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Marton Csokas

Based on the 1980s television series, The Equalizer looks to up the violence of the source material and bring some gravitas to a pulpy story – the director and star previously paired on Training Day, which won Washington an Oscar. That's all well and good, but the sting of filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn's (Bronson, Drive, OnlyGod Forgives) departure from the project remains. It's likely the skeletal structure of what drew Refn to the material still exists, but the looks we've had at this movie so far don't promise more than Denzel Washington doing the same thing he's done for a decade. He'll be solid as always, with a stiff-upper-lip resolve and sense of justice, but with the short lead time Fuqua had after taking the project off Refn's hands, it's unlikely he had the option of imbuing it with his personal vision, instead being forced into a director-for-hire gig.

Or it could be an exploration of masculinity and chivalry and how that can go wrong. It can expand on the straightforward hand-to-hand action style hinted by the trailer to become a new action touchstone. It can show Chloe Grace Moretz continue her maturation into a possible awarding winning actress – she clearly is meant to bring to mind the Jodie Foster-in-Taxi Driver role here. The ingredients are there, but it'll likely be a slick Hollywood action thriller instead of the gonzo ultraviolence Refn promised.

The Boxtrolls
Directors: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Writers: Irena Brignull, Adam Pava
Starring: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Tracy Morgan

Stop-motion animation and charm go a long way with people. So do adaptations of children's literature. This is one ostensibly for kids, but from the looks of it – some good fish-out-of-water humor, a wonderfully talented voice cast, and most importantly, no instantly outdated pop culture references in the trailer – it won't be a bad experience for the parents either.

It looks like a simple hero's journey, but if it's done well, as directors Annable and Stacchi (Coraline, Paranorman) are known to do, chances are this one will be a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half.

Jimi: All Is by My Side
Director: John Ridley
Writer: John Ridley
Starring: André Benjamin, Hayley Atwell, Imogen Poots

Writer-Director John Ridley is a newly minted Oscar winner after having penned last year's 12 Years a Slave. He continues the biopic trajectory here, but with a different century surrounding the subject who is tragic for different reasons than the subject of Ridley's last film.

André Benjamin has always had a theatrical flair as one half of Outkast. He's charming and has a career's worth of knowledge on how to captivate a crowd, so his onstage work as Jimi Hendrix looks to be spot-on. We'll see about his ability to cover the range of human emotions, but he's got the performance aspects down pat.

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