How 'American Assassin' took a long, twisting path to film

Dylan O'Brien stars as Mitch Rapp in a scene from "American Assassin," based on the spy novel from the late Vince Flynn. The movie opens Friday in the mid-valley. 

Christian Black

Movies playing in mid-valley theaters as of Friday. Complete and updated Movie Scene listings can be found online.



1 ½ stars

(Action thriller, R, 111 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) A young man who loses everything in a terrorist attack becomes hellbent on seeking revenge; eventually, he’s recruited by the CIA. Though moral questions tumble around “American Assassin,” the film itself relies on so many cliches it can never be trusted to give a truly profound statement; in the end, it just wallows in gruesome violence. Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton star. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)


2 ½ stars

(Crime drama, R, 101 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) A bank robbery by a sociopath (Robert Pattinson) and his mentally challenged brother (Benny Safdie, also the co-director with his brother Josh) sets off a chain of bizarre and occasionally wickedly funny events. Ultimately, the sometimes clever story runs out of steam and limps across the finish line. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


(Comedy, no MPAA rating, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) A failed actor (Brett Gelman) falls into a downward spiral after his longtime girlfriend breaks up with him. Judy Greer, Michael Cera, Nia Long, Shiri Appleby, and Gillian Jacobs also star.


2 stars

(Horror thriller, R, 121 minutes, 2 stars, playing at the Regal 7 and AMC Corvallis AMC 12) The lives of a passive young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and her much older husband (Javier Bardem) go from unsettling to bizarre after the arrival of a strange and rude couple (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer). In this pounding, throbbing feature-length metaphor, director Darren Aronofsky assaults our senses with shocking and sometimes almost sickening imagery. It's all staged with impressive craftsmanship, but to what end?



3 stars

(Fantasy drama, R, 93 minutes, playing at the Pix in Albany) Killed in a car crash, a musician (Casey Affleck) is reborn as a mute, silent presence witnessing the grief of his wife (Rooney Mara) at their house, and much more. It's roughly 60 percent disturbingly beautiful and 40 percent achingly self-conscious. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


3 stars

(Comedy drama, PG-13, 97 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) A recently separated woman (Reese Witherspoon) moves to Los Angeles with her two daughters and rents out her guesthouse to three much younger men (Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff, and Jon Rudnitsky) — one of whom she soon begins dating.  Candice Bergen co-stars in this romantic comedy written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, the daughter of Nancy Meyers, and like her mother’s flicks, this is the kind of domestic escapism that feels like being wrapped in a warm hug. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)


4 stars

(Horror, R, 135 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the Regal 4 in Corvallis) This R-rated interpretation of Stephen King's masterful 1986 novel is a bold, intense, beautifully paced, wickedly hilarious, seriously scary and gorgeously terrifying period-piece work that instantly takes its place among the most impressively twisted horror movies of our time. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


3 ½ stars

(Comedy, R, 97 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) An obsessed stalker (Aubrey Plaza, alternately charming and sad and pathetic and absolutely insane) meets the internet trendsetter she worships (a perfectly cast Elizabeth Olsen) and manages to become her bestie. It's a smart and darkly amusing comedy that grows crazier and crazier. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


3 stars

(Animated, PG, 89 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) "Leap!" (Animated adventure, PG, 89 minutes). Elle Fanning does wonderful voice work as an 11-year-old orphan dreaming of dancing ballet in 1880s Paris. Aside from one murderous misstep, this lovely and breezy animated adventure is thoroughly enchanting. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


1 ½ stars

(Action-adventure-comedy, R, 111 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) Through a series of contrived circumstances, a security specialist (Ryan Reynolds) is enlisted to transport an assassin (Samuel L. Jackson) to a war criminal's trial. There's nothing and no one to like in this blunt, ultraviolent, obnoxious empty vessel of a movie. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


3 ½ stars (Crime caper, PG-13, 119 minutes, playing at the Regal 4 in Corvallis) In what plays like a biscuits-and-gravy take on "Ocean's 11," a couple of twang-talkin' dirt-kickers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) plan to steal the cash from a North Carolina speedway vault. Steven Soderbergh's breezy heist romp is great fun and one of the most purely entertaining movies of the year. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


4 stars

(Western thriller, R, 111 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) An FBI investigator (Elizabeth Olsen) needs help from a wildlife agent (Jeremy Renner) to find a girl's killer in the snows of Wyoming. It's a stark and beautiful and haunting 21st-century thriller, filled with memorable visuals and poetic dialogue — and scenes of sudden, shocking, brutal violence. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


2 stars

(Drama, PG-13, 127 minutes, playing at the Regal 4 in Corvallis) The well-made adaptation of journalist Jeannette Walls' memoir doesn't shy away from some of the more shocking and tragic episodes from her upbringing. But when it tries to celebrate her cruel father's supposed bohemian idealism and love for his children, it rings sour and false. Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts star. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


3 stars

(Documentary, PG, 100 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) The sequel to 2006's Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth" follows Al Gore around the globe as he meets with young (and practically worshipful) recruits to the climate change cause. The final scenes, urging viewers to sign up and get involved, make it seem as if we've been watching an infomercial all this time.


1 star

(Horror-fantasy, PG-13, 94 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) As the Man in Black, Matthew McConaughey is supposed to send chills down your spine, but he's nothing but a preening, one-dimensional goof. That's just one of the many unfortunate elements in this Stephen King adaptation plagued by washed-out cinematography, mediocre special effects and stilted dialogue. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


4 stars

(War drama, PG-13, 106 minutes, playing at the Pix in Albany) Christopher Nolan's faithful and deeply respectful retelling of one of the most pivotal battles in World War II is a gripping, deeply involving and unforgettable film that ranks among the best war movies of the decade. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


3 ½ stars

(Sci-fi action, PG-13, 133 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Vengeful after a human attack on their compound, Caesar (Andy Serkis, brilliant and heartbreaking) and his ape allies go on a mission to take out the officer responsible (Woody Harrelson). The result is a war movie more serious and much darker than most big-budget midsummer blockbusters. And a whole lot more captivating. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


3 ½ stars

(Action adventure, PG-13, 133 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) The best thing about the latest Spider-Man (the terrific and well-cast Tom Holland) is that he's still more of a kid than a man. Even with a goodly amount of explosions and action, this scaled-down adventure plays less like an ultimate-stakes battle than a John Hughes teen-angst romance/comedy meshed with a superhero saga. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


4 stars

(Action, R, 113 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Edgar Wright's "Baby Driver," about a savant of a getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) working for a criminal mastermind (Kevin Spacey), crackles with originality and dark humor and teems with perfectly timed action sequences. If you see this movie and tell me you didn't have a great time, we're going to have to talk about your idea of a great time. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


1 ½ stars

(Animated, PG, 90 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Gru, the lovable villain from the first two “Despicable” movies, must cope not just with a long-long brother but a new baddie: Balthazar Bratt, a former child star. Steve Carell returns to voice Gru and Trey Parker of “South Park” voices Balthazar. Other voices include Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, Kristen Wiig and Steve Coogan. There are Minions as well, but the overall film is less than the sum of its parts: It’s wacky but dull. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)


3 ½ stars

(Fantasy/action-adventure, PG-13, 141 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) Director Patty Jenkins' origin story is packed with heart and empathy, and we have the endearing lead performance of Gal Gadot to thank for that. It's a fully realized, three-dimensional characterization of a superhero that has never gotten her due — until now. (Richard Roeper, Universal Press Syndicate)


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