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The Other Woman

Brick Mansions

May 1, 2014

A Haunted House 2 (**)

The Other Woman (** ½) PG-13

The Other Woman is the latest from director Nick Cassavetes and if you know anything about film beyond the current top ten grossing films, I’m sure you’re aware that any similarity between the director and his late, groundbreaking father, John, ends with the last names of the two men.

The younger Cassavetes’ latest film is yet another example of the mainstream fare that he’s expected to deliver on such a regular basis that you can almost mark your calendar. His past successes include such crowd pleasers as John Q and The Notebook. The Other Woman won’t likely be remembered as fondly as those aforementioned films but, surprisingly, it isn’t the disaster that one might mistakenly think. In fact, the film is quite good for at least an hour or so and features spirited performances from its two leading ladies. It’s only when the story—courtesy of screenwriting newcomer, Melissa K. Stack—devolves into a fairly routine and predictable revenge plot during the film’s final section that the film takes a nosedive.

In the film’s early scenes, Carly (Cameron Diaz), a single attorney, can’t believe how well things are going with her latest squeeze, Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).

Mann, Diaz & Upton in The Other Woman

She begins each workday by confiding in her secretary (singer, Nicki Minaj, giving teeth clenched line readings, proving she probably should stick to her day job) and giving her all the juiciest details on the man who seems too good to be true. It isn’t long before Carly discovers Mr. Wonderful is married and, as a result of an ill-timed decision, finds herself comforting Mark’s victimized wife, Kate (Leslie Mann). They form a tentative bond, which eventually lends itself to a true friendship. Things take an even stranger turn when the two women discover that Mark has a third chick on the side (model Kate Upton). The trio then decides that revenge is a dish best served cold and the film takes a left turn from which it never recovers.

The Other Woman is surprisingly engaging for most of its running time. To be sure, some of the film’s jokes do seem a bit old-hat from time to time but Mann and Diaz do make such a good pair of leading ladies that it’s hard to come away hating the picture. Mann has proved her aptitude for comedy in such films as Knocked Up and This is 40. Here, she shows once again that she’s got the chops to take on these parts with gusto and I’m hoping that Hollywood will sit up and take notice. She deserves to be a marquee name and perhaps, flaws and all, The Other Woman will be the film to get her that long-deserved status.

Brick Mansions (**) PG-13

Taking into account the grisly details of his untimely demise in a car crash last November, traces of dark irony can be found in far too many of the films which feature the late actor Paul Walker as the star. Brick Mansions is no exception and features the requisite number of action scenes that one would come to expect from a film featuring Walker in the lead role. In the past that wouldn’t have been a problem, but now it’s more than a little discomforting watching the actor go through his paces, driving fast and crashing cars and the like, knowing full well that Walker’s life didn’t have the sunny ending that we know his character will have.

Brick Mansions is an Americanized version of the foreign film District B13 and features, alongside Paul Walker, a star of the original version, David Belle. I’m told that the original film is the better of the two but that’s no surprise as most remakes of foreign films pale in comparison to their overseas counterparts; but I digress.

The late Paul Walker in Brick Mansions

The plot of Brick Mansions is set in the slums of Detroit, where in the year 2018, things have gotten so bad that the city has been blocked off so that its citizens can wallow in their own degradation. Lino (Belle) is an ex con who lives there and has raised the ire of a local drug kingpin (RZA). The dealer has kidnapped Lino’s girlfriend (Catalina Denis), which gets Paul Walker’s cop character, Damien, into the thick of things. He promises to help rescue Lino’s girl if Lino will help him take down the kingpin. That’s basically the plot in a nutshell.

Taken on its own terms and with the knowledge of its star’s early passing put aside, Brick Mansions is the sort of lackluster fare that isn’t god-awful but doesn’t illicit anything near the no-brain thrills that are readily found in the last two entries of Walker’s signature movie franchise, Fast and Furious.

The film is written by Luc Beeson, a filmmaker who used to be taken seriously having penned such genuinely entertaining films as La Femme Nikita, The Big Blue, and The Fifth Element, to name a few. Now Beeson seems to be stuck in the obligatory action movie mode, having found a comfortable place after the success of the Taken films, which made a certifiable box office star out of Liam Neeson. It isn’t that Beeson isn’t talented, it’s just that films like Brick Mansions don’t engender the type of stretching of artistic muscles that someone in his profession needs from time to time. Perhaps he should rethink penning those next three Transporter films.

Both movies are at the Carmike Theater in Hickory & area theaters.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

 

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