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In the middle of a holiday moviegoing season fraught with yarns of slavery, childhood mortality, cancer, senility, and an AIDS panacea as a cash cow, it’s amazing how refreshing a cheesy exploitation film can sound. Taking sole screenwriting credit, Sylvester Stallone lumps together shreds of his past glories to form a formulaic (if effective) revenge thrill ride. Jason Statham stars as Rambo with a daughter, a passive-until-pushed ex-NYC cop living in backwoods Louisiana with a price placed on his head by an imprisoned mobster. Playing what could be an older cousin of his Spring Breakers’ character Alien, James Franco amuses the crowd as a ferocious meth chef, with a down-and-dirty Kate Bosworth perfect in the role of analeptic-addled sister and Academy Award-winning Winona Ryder as his crack whore galpal. This time around, the otherwise inefficacious Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls, Runaway Jury) earned his director’s check. With Clancy Brown and Frank Grillo. 2013.

Scott Marks

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