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The hero role goes to Ryan Reynolds, who is decent but lightweight. As Matt, he is bored running a CIA safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. Boredom ends with the unexpected arrival of Tobin Frost (Washington). Frost is a genius of ruthlessness, a fabled CIA agent gone rogue, now selling for many millions a tiny cyber file that incriminates about half of the world’s spy agencies. To hide it, he needles the thing into his leg (infection is never an issue).

Frost “rewrote the book on interrogation,” but director Daniel Espinosa is not about to rewrite the book (or comic book) of standard action pictures. He shows some waterboarding, yet torture just blends into the amorphously morbid indictment of all secret government procedures. He works up some competitive bonding between Matt and Frost, but that gets pulverized by the zeal to feed viewers their adrenaline pellets every few minutes: chases, crashes, maulings, a woman trampled at a soccer stadium, a huge (fake) explosion. Villains are disposable, treachery is pervasive, and good actors (Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Rubén Blades) are plot dots with familiar faces.

Both the story and the action sprees defy close examination. They are so juiced and looped and crazed for quick payoff that we can shut down our minds and become Pavlovian eyeballs. A nice, humane moment over a bottle of wine is soon shattered by gunfire. The Great Debaters wasn’t bad, but it has been way too long since a first-rate Washington movie. The waste of a great talent fits this film’s cynicism.


Reviewed in the movie capsules: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, The Secret World of Arrietty, This Means War.

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Comments

monaghan Feb. 15, 2012 @ 5:53 p.m.

In overrated "Pina" the best move is when a woman dancer dives headfirst through the outstretched encircled arms of a male counterpart, sort of a slam-dunk-with-humans. Otherwise, the movie is an expensive cure for insomnia at $14 for oldsters.

AMC La Jolla 12 also has posted a sign about intent to sell alcoholic beverages, which could be an omen that management may be going to transform the place into one of those high-priced barcalounger dinner theaters that have been proliferating in North County.That would be a shame.

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David Elliott Feb. 16, 2012 @ 4:24 p.m.

Monaghan, You saw "Pina"and then remembered a good stunt. No, a terrific dance movie was not for you, only for those "oldsters" (and youngsters) who relish how an artist's inventive 3-D salute to another artist can combine two arts (dance, film) beautifully.

As to the AMC La Jolla 12, can alcohol keep that pleasant plex afloat? My feeling is that booze and movies, like booze and driving, don't really mix. However, I admit that a bottle of Scotch, plus a Green Goddess salad and slab of meat, would enhance any viewing of "The Oscar."

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knowitall Feb. 19, 2012 @ 10:16 a.m.

dear reader, i would like to apply for a position as a movie critic. like your current critic, i have no real credentials for the position. this seems to be the only qualification for the job. however, unlike your current critic, i will actually go and see the movies i critique, rather than regurgitating the reviews of other critics i googled - unless it is a foreign or art film, in which case i will defer to your current critic to praise and lift on high, regardless of how unviewable it is, as he seems needful of constantly proving how superior his knowledge and acumen is compared to we mere mortals. instead, i will give an accounting of films based on what 99% of us go to a movie for: to be entertained!

in lieu of hiring me you might consider including the following guide as part of your review section:

our critic gave it a black dot = you will probably like it. our critic gave it 3 or 4 stars = you will probably hate it. our critic gave it 1 or 2 stars = he probably never saw it and is relying on other reviews he read online.

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Duhbya Feb. 19, 2012 @ 2:05 p.m.

Hey, look - another "drive-by" poster! Is that burning odor coming from the grinding of an ax? Disagree with Mr. Elliott's reviews as you please, but do not question his credentials if you are unaware of them. Why don't you consider submitting a freelance "knowitall" review for consideration?

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 19, 2012 @ 7:43 p.m.

Why don't you consider submitting a freelance "knowitall" review for consideration? ==

OK, I will second Duhbya's motion

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knowitall Feb. 19, 2012 @ 4:01 p.m.

thank you, duh, for your primer on how NOT to use idioms, your stern and fatherly lecture("i reprimand because i care")and your suggestion.

i'm only guessing here but i think that odor you detect may be synapse misfires.

unlike the rest of your "knee jerk" response, your(one and only) valid point about submitting my own reviews seems genuine enough, but i'm afraid it would cut too deeply into my "download internet porn" time to warrant much of a commitment on a purely volunteer basis.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 19, 2012 @ 7:47 p.m.

Now Children, no fighting on the blog, I do enough of that to cover for EVERYONE!

BTW the knowitall profile pic of Rat Bolger is awesome!

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Duhbya Feb. 20, 2012 @ 6:24 a.m.

You are most welcome, kia, and I commend you on the "duh" notation, inspired as it was. Please accept my apology regarding the "drive-by" crack, as it appears you'll soon be promoted to the prolific pile. Having recently undergone a painful and costly synapse bypass, I guess your guess was just a guess. I took the liberty of having the ashes analyzed, and apparently the offending bouquet was caused by the untimely demise of your keyboard's caps key. (They mentioned that the space bar was on its last jabs, too) Keep on pornin', you tonguein' sheik! Merely mortally yours, Duhb (a.k.a. The Knee Jerk Kid)

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knowitall Feb. 19, 2012 @ 8:28 p.m.

lol, sure thing surf!

gotta love ray bolger, and i figured the scarecrow ("if i only had a brain")was a good choice of avatar to go with my arrogant profile moniker (which is meant to be tongue-in-cheek).

always enjoy reading your clever and insightful comments in the reader!

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knowitall Feb. 20, 2012 @ 9:10 a.m.

duhb, i am, at the same time, humbled and inspired by the eloquence and adroitness of your reply! proof positive that the agony (both physical and financial)of said bypass was a sacrifice not undertaken in vain!

i cannot accept your apology, however.(though i do gratefully acknowledge and accept its intent) my reason for NOT accepting it is twofold: a)it was pretty funny. and b)as a "newbie" i should expect and certainly be willing to appreciate a bit of good natured ribbing from wily veterans such as yourself.

i hope the analysis of those ashes was not too much of a bother and i am now indebted to you for your kindness. in all candor though, i must confess that the blame for the lack of "caps," falls squarely at the feet of the keyboard's operator. in my defense i can only offer that it is my way of rebelling against "the man/woman."(equality)and all his/her "then/than," "its/it's," "your/you're rules" that shackle and repress those of us that didn't pay attention in composition class because karen dunlap sat right in front of us and she was the cutest girl in school and smelled like strawberries and petiole oil and who can focus on grammar when every fiber of your recently pubescent body wonders what it would be like to... uh, sorry... what was i talking about?

"tonguein' sheik" haha! well played! i bow to you, sir!

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Duhbya Feb. 20, 2012 @ 12:55 p.m.

"Trucing begins in 5 minutes", to paraphrase Governo....er, President(!!)Raygun. Truth be known, my over-the-top protective frothing (hey, "knee jerk" DOES sound better) had nothing to do with Mr. Elliott's literary prowess, but everything to do with his championing the restoration of the Loma Theater to its former glory. I mean, that place holds a ton of sacred memories for me. Like the time Becky Anderson and I saw "Old Yeller" there. Actually, she did all the yelling after I pulled the "popcorn surprise" gag. Now ya got ME doing it!! Bowing back, Jack.

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