A few not-so-shocking giveaways about this week’s new movie releases, including Justice League and Frank Serpico
Matthew Lickona 6 p.m., Nov. 17
A hot mess of a philosophical cyber-thriller. The hot is provided by Scarlett Johansson as a government agent (but corporate creation) built from a human brain and a synthetic body, the latter often on quasi-display in a shimmering sort of shell casing that she only occasionally uses as digital camouflage. The mess encompasses pretty much everything else. Philosophical: on the question of what defines us, memories or actions, the heroine explicitly comes down on the side of actions — this after spending the entire film investigating the truth about her past, i.e., her memories. (In fairness, she also investigates a super-hacker — played with remarkable feeling, all things considered, by Michael Pitt — who sounds pretty self-righteous for a guy who brain-jacks lowly garbagemen and builds neural networks from human brains. But it all ties together.) Cyber: the notion that a company would build a robot super-weapon and not include a failsafe is a touch risible. As are many of the implanted geegaws that festoon enhanced humanity. Thriller: Peter Ferdinando puts the “vanilla” in “villain,” sidekick Pilou Asbæk can’t lock down his accent or his attitude, and the film lurches between mayhem and musing. It’s better with the former, which isn’t saying much. Some cool visuals, though. Directed by Rupert Sanders. 2017.