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 metropolitan murder mystery that, in the Golden Age of the detective novel, might well have appealed to Ellery Queen: somebody is killing people in graphic illustration of the Seven Deadly Sins, and littering the crime scenes with quotations from Milton, Shakespeare, etc. We do not now, naturally, have an Ellery Queen on the case, but instead a monkish burnt-out homicide detective seven days away from retirement — a stock character elevated by Morgan Freeman to new heights of Angst and Weltschmerz — partnered with an antsy man of action -- Brad Pitt, stylishly unkempt — who resorts to Cliffs Notes for help with the literary quotations. Fortunately for them, if not us, the case eventually stops being a whodunit and, after a scary running gun battle, starts being a where'd-he-go and then a what's-he-gonna-do-next, en route to the most unsettling ending for a thriller since The Vanishing — the Dutch original, not the American remake. The film is exceedingly dark, not to say noir, as if it were set in some near science-fictional future where electrical energy is ruthlessly rationed; the image at all levels of illumination is curiously drained of color; the mood is brooding, gloomy, solemn, almost to the point of dull. Yet the vision of director David Fincher (Alien 3, after a string of music videos) has a consistency and a grandiosity that are somehow quite compelling. With Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey. 1995.