Posted: December 20, 2013 at 3:40 a.m.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, directed by David Lowery (R, 105 minutes)

A superbly acted and stylish thriller in which rural 1970s-era Texas Hill Country outlaws Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and his pregnant girlfriend, Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara), face off with local sheriff Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster) when Bob escapes from prison after taking the rap four years earlier for Ruth’s shooting of Wheeler.

“There are real virtues to this movie; it’s remarkably well crafted and beautifully shot,” says our critic Philip Martin. “If it drifts a little too much toward romanticizing its tender outlaws, it’s just following in the footsteps of the masters.” With Keith Carradine.

Elysium (R, 97 minutes) A predictable yet politically astute futuristic action fable on the ever popular topic of contrasting the luxe lives of the haves with the meager scraps afforded to the have-nots, Elysium is set in 2154. That’s when there are very wealthy and privileged people who live on an immaculate space station called Elysium, and the rest of humanity is stuck on what’s left of squalid Earth, a land of crime, poverty, hopelessness and abysmal medical care. Max (Matt Damon), who has desperate health-related reasons to get to Elysium, takes on a dangerous mission that could mean a huge difference in what’s left of his life along with the lives of millions of others. Ornot. With Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, Diego Luna; directed by Neill Blomkamp.

The Lone Ranger (PG-13, 149 minutes) One of the year’s more spectacular flops, this incredibly expensive ($250 million), frustratingly flaccid and surprisingly violent production stars Armie Hammer as the West’s legendary masked lawman and Johnny Depp as his strangely attired and cosmetically curious American Indian warrior companion Tonto. “Somewhere, around the hour-and-a-half mark, The Lone Ranger makes the fateful decision not to end,” says critic Christopher Orr in The Atlantic. “Worse, the movie keeps not-ending for another full hour.” With William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter; directed by Gore Verbinski.

Force of Execution (R, 99 minutes) Old-school mob boss Mr. Alexander (Steven Seagal) sends his protege Roman Hurst (Bren Foster) to take care of a relatively simple prison hit. When the hit inexplicably goes wrong, Alexander’s plans to get out of the crime business are curtailed - especially when an escalating battle between Alexander and a brutal gangster known as the Iceman (Ving Rhames) drastically changes the playing field. With Danny Trejo, Jenny Gabrielle, Sarah Minnich; directed by Keoni Waxman.

Kick-Ass 2 (R, 113 minutes) The fitfully entertaining but absolutely unnecessary sequel to 2010 ’ssurprise hit comedy Kick-Ass follows the return of masked and costumed high school vigilante Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) as he inspires a citywide wave of imitators to face off (with emphatic violence) against vengeful super-villain Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). With John Leguizamo, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey; directed by Jeff Wadlow.

Devil’s Pass (R, 96 minutes) This low-budget horror adventure directed by Renny Harlin is set in February 1959 when nine Russian hikers venture into a remote area of the Ural Mountains. Two weeks later, all nine are found dead, exposed to massive amounts of radiation, half dressed and with internal injuries but no external wounds. Five ambitious modern-day American college students return to the site of the unexplained deaths to determine and document the truth of what happened at Dyatlov’s Pass. There they find that the forces behind the incident are still hanging around, waiting for them. Luckily for us, they’re equipped with plenty of video cameras.

“Renny Harlin’s fun, creepy found-footage horror knows when to be charming and, crucially, when to take its based-on-true-events conspiracy plot to its ridiculously entertaining conclusion, ” says critic Michael Leader on the website Film4. With Holly Goss, Luke Albright, Matt Stokoe.

MovieStyle, Pages 36 on 12/20/2013


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