ANGER MANAGEMENT: Starring Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei, John Turturro. Director: Peter Segal.
It's a film with a good concept, an A-list star pairing and celebrity cameos by the bucketload. All it needs now are the laughs that sort of combination should deliver.
Through a series of bizarre misunderstandings on an airplane trip, mild-mannered Dave Buznik (Sandler) is forced to take an intense, 30-day anger-management course with the famed anger specialist Dr. Buddy Rydell (Nicholson).
But it soon becomes clear that Rydell is more than just a maverick in his field - he is obviously nuts, with plenty of rage issues of his own.
Nicholson gets to do all the twitching, eyebrow raising and grinning that was denied him in About Schmidt, while Sandler reverts to his typical goon persona. The comedy plot line sleepwalks its way along, taking potshots at America's therapy culture and rounds off with a rom-com situation as Dave tries to save the relationship with his girlfriend, played by Marisa Tomei.
He's embarrassed at showing affection for her in public, so if you can already guess the film involves a very public, very cliched proposal of love, then you pretty much have a handle on the whole movie.
It's not a bad film - there are good set-pieces in there. But it's also a movie by the director of Nutty Professor II, so there are a lot of lowest common denominator laughs. All in all, it's just lazy, not living up to the promise of its stars.
THE HUNTED: Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen. Director: William Friedkin.
In its simplest form, this is a chase movie - a one-on-one pursuit from the director of The French Connection, who produced one of the most famous chase scenes in cinematic history. But Friedkin directs with immediacy, making it also a close physical duel between its two main characters and an emotional battle of wills.
LT Bonham (Jones) is a military advisor to the US Army, training elite forces to stalk, track, hunt and kill. Soldier Aaron Hallam (Del Toro) is a former student, now suffering severe battle stress after a tour of duty in Kosovo.
Hallam becomes a radical defender of animal rights, and fillets several hunters. Recognising the style of the butchery, it's up to Bonham to find his trail and track him down.
Jones seems to make a habit of chase movies, but this is a departure from The Fugitive and US Marshalls. Friedkin is at pains to keep everything ‘real'. When the two men scrap, there are no wire-works or clever CGI effects. Blows land heavily, arms and legs turn heavy, hand-to-hand combat is shown as a draining and physical exertion.
When the men are running through forests, the camera takes you right in there with them, keeping it up close and personal rather than scenic. Through all the running, hiding and stalking, you almost get to experience the men's physical effort yourself.
The chase sequences lead through woodlands and city streets, on foot and in cars. There are moments away from the chase, and other characters providing background and atmosphere, such as Connie Nielsen's FBI agent that tries to aid Bonham. But ultimately it's a near-constant pursuit where only the two protaganists matter.
In some ways the cast seem subdued, but that's down to an almost minimalist screenplay in which no one gets to talk too much, relying on deeds to set the tone rather than lengthy exposition.
Well worth watching.