OLIVIA Wilde is in searing form for the stunning, stripped-back abuse-survivor drama A Vigilante.
There is flabbier fare as Christian Bale bulks up to play Dick Cheney in Vice, while the Lego Movie 2 is a similarly overstuffed affair that inevitably falls short of the instant-classic first instalment.
DVD Of The Week: A Vigilante
(15) 85mins, out now
OLIVIA Wilde is the titular vigilante in this impressively austere, occasionally horrifying payback drama.
She plays a sort of low-tech Lisbeth Salander more reliant on wigs and brute force than computers and high-octane motorbikes.
An early glimpse of her scarred back positions Wilde’s avenging angel as a survivor of the abuse for which she metes out punishment — a soul as bruised as her knuckles, who finds release in violence if not redemption.
There is a smothering stillness between the bouts of brutality and an animalistic rawness to Wilde’s performance, which at times is difficult to watch.
A disturbing but satisfying tale not of revenge but of justice done — wrapped around a haunting portrayal of trauma and grief.
A stunning debut from writer-director Sarah Daggar-Nickson.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
(U) 103 mins, out June 3
EVERYTHING was awesome about the first Lego Movie. Aside from the dazzling visuals and the maddeningly catchy songs, it boasted an insanely high hit-rate with its gags.
The opening hour, in particular, was probably the funniest cinema of 2014 (or any year).
Almost inevitably, The Second Part fails to hit those heights. Again, it offers extraordinary spectacle, mind-bending creativity and stellar voice work.
Some of the jokes land. But it’s a draining watch, overstuffed and relentlessly hyperactive, a victim to the excesses the first instalment lampooned.
The first Lego Movie was an impish mischief-maker and an instant classic. As a technical exercise, this is every bit its match.
As pure entertainment, however, it feels bloated and a little tired.
(15) 132mins, out June 3
FLAWED but fun biopic summed up by an amusing, though very telling admission that its makers know very little for sure about its famously secretive subject.
Christian Bale piles on the pounds as Dick Cheney, the former US Vice President who wielded more influence than any other holder of that position (yes, even Dan Quayle). His captivating performance charts Cheney’s remarkable transition from beer-soaked clown to hyper-ambitious master of the dark arts.
There are excellent comic turns alongside him from Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld and Sam Rockwell as Dubya Bush, though Amy Adams is underused as Cheney’s wife Lynne.
Part farce, part tragedy, there are some daring choices by director Adam McKay (who helmed the overrated Big Short), including a brilliantly executed fake-out ending. But Vice is baggy and scattershot, blaming Cheney for pretty much everything wrong with the world, which is surely giving even him too much credit.
A leaner, more disciplined affair drilling into one or two key episodes — like Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic Steve Jobs — might have been more effective.
(15) 100mins, out June 3
RUMINATIVE frontier fable with Ethan Hawke and Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) as Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, a double-act as inextricably linked as Batman and the Joker.
Jake Schur plays Rio — the Kid of the title — who flees violence at home only to find the violence comes with him, as it usually does in Westerns. He winds up in the middle of an odd dance between Garrett, sober and stony-faced, and the charming but volatile outlaw staring down justice at the end of a rope.
Chris Pratt brings unexpected menace as Rio’s villainous uncle and the best scenes are his with Hawke’s Garrett.
But Schur is a lightweight presence in the demanding central role, never fully convincing as the conflicted youngster at a crossroads.
The climax is less bang than whimper.
(15) 116mins, out June 3
ROTE treatment of a remarkable true story that squanders a host of on-screen talent.
Clint Eastwood plays curmudgeonly fossil Earl Stone, a prize-winning gardener but failure as a family man who falls, more or less by accident, into driving drugs across the US for the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel.
His confused, shambling turn feels less like a performance than a pained farewell — contrast it with Robert Redford’s twinkle-eyed bow in The Old Man And The Gun.
Given Eastwood directed this, he has only himself to blame.
Bradley Cooper, Lawrence Fishburne, Michael Pena and Diane Wiest are among the big hitters given nothing to do in the plodding, nuance-free script, which never misses an opportunity to spell out the bleedin’ obvious.
This mule is a donkey.
(12A) 103mins, out Monday
JENNIFER Lopez makes her romcom return as Maya Vargas, a supermarket assistant manager who stumbles into a high-powered corporate career when a pal submits a doctored CV on her behalf.
Vanessa Hudgens and Leah Remini offer further star power but the cast aren’t allowed to live up to their promise. That’s not to say this is all bad. The first act is almost a film within itself, as Maya’s relationship unexpectedly hits the rocks.
Then comes… the second act. Ironically, this is where things go wrong. The twist is predictable, the various subplots muddled and confusing.
There are not enough laughs and romance is lacking — a worrying combination for a romcom.
Watchable enough but don’t expect any fireworks.
MOST READ IN FILM
The World is Yours
(15) 95mins, out now
KARIM Leklou stars in this French caper as a petty drug-dealer bidding to become a legitimate businessman, only to be forced into the dreaded “one last job” after losing his savings.
Despite the familiar plot, things build to a climax with aplomb. Vincent Cassel is in fine form as Leklou’s dimwitted stepfather, fresh out of prison, who becomes obsessed with the Illuminati in a faintly comedic subplot.
The soundtrack assists the narrative by seamlessly weaving together techno, rock and classical, while the backdrops are sublime, if not shot with great imagination.
An enjoyable romp lacking a little polish.