"Vantage Point" is proof that a good pulp idea can overcome a multitude of sins, but not all of them. Initially intriguing and energetic, this film ends up demonstrating that a good script needs to be more than a clever concept and fine direction must be more than moving things fast.
The most arresting and informative moment in "The Kingdom" comes early -- during the opening credits. A breathless series of high-contrast and highly stylized graphics relates the history of Saudi Arabia from its inception in 1932 to its modern-day role as the world's leading producer of oil and religious extremists.
Ang Lee's Chinese-language erotic espionage thriller "Lust, Caution" takes place in backrooms and bedrooms. Much of the action unfolds around the mahjong table and consists of stolen glances, innuendo-laden dialogue and significant pauses. This goes on for well over two hours, with the pace varying from slow to slower.
Better doesn't mean good. So just because "Resident Evil: Extinction," the third and purportedly last installment in the videogame film franchise, marks a major improvement upon the last outing, don't go rushing to theaters just yet.
Just in case you missed this month's "Rogue Assassin" and "Death Sentence," both slick but ultimately shallow revenge fantasies that ran up the body count to prove the point that violence begets more violence, along comes "The Brave One" to reiterate the lesson with all the subtlety of a bullet to the head.
The story behind the making of "The Invasion" provides more thrills and contains more twists and turns than the finished product. According to press reports, this reworking of the seminal science-fiction novel "The Body Snatchers" suffered through rewrites and casting woes before it even started lensing and then, after the picture wrapped, its original director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, got the boot and was replaced by a hired gun, who proceeded to reshoot many of the scenes.
A suburbanite's innermost fears -- that the next door neighbor has something to hide and that someone, somewhere is watching -- are realized in "Disturbia," a deft, topical thriller that does a better than average job at delivering the goods.
Take a deep breath before you watch "The Bourne Ultimatum" because, for nearly two hours, you'll be holding it. From its opening shot to its final reel, the concluding chapter in this genre-redefining spy trilogy dives into the summer's best action and thrills, only occasionally coming up for air to raise some hard-hitting questions and address some urgent, topical issues.
Up until the one-hour mark, the paranormal thriller "1408" delivers scares, low-key laughs and just the right amount of thought-provoking material. Then the picture gets all philosophical on us and collapses under the weight of its own ambition.
Writer-director Andrea Arnold's harrowing and provocative thriller "Red Road" does a sly job of subverting audience expectation and manipulating our identification with the picture's principal players.