Bumpy ‘Ride,’ saccharine ‘Shelter,’ foul ‘Frankenstein,’ Retro ‘Ryan’

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FS, Contributing Writer

 

“Ride Along”

Motor-mouth comedian Kevin Hart teams up with Ice Cube in the action comedy “Ride Along” (wide release), and it’s not a match made in heaven.

”Ride Along,” starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart (left to right) as an unlikely crime-fighting pair, proves to be cliché and tiresome. -Photo courtesy of imbd.com
”Ride Along,” starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart (left to right) as an unlikely crime-fighting pair, proves to be cliché and tiresome.
-Photo courtesy of imbd.com

Cube plays a tough Atlanta detective who invites Hart, his sister’s aggravating boyfriend, to accompany him on his rounds to prove that he’s unworthy to join the department — or to marry the girl. Needless to say, not only do they

grudgingly form a bond, but they crack the biggest case in the city.

There are echoes of innumerable past buddy flicks at work here, but most of the time the movie feels like threadbare second-hand goods. And though Hart is a funny guy in small doses, his shtick gets increasingly tiresome when drawn out over two hours. The violence in the final confrontation is also excessive.

Your best bet is to decline the invitation to take this “Ride”.

 

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”

The latest Hollywood reboot of an established property is “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (wide release), in which Chris Pine takes on the role of Tom Clancy’s CIA agent, played in earlier incarnations by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck.

After his turn as the young Captain Kirk in the “Star Trek” franchise, Pine is an old hand at resuscitating familiar characters, and he does a good job as the new Ryan, an Afghan war vet recruited to join the agency as an operative on Wall Street. When he uncovers a possible plot targeting the entire U.S. financial system, he’s sent to Russia to investigate the oligarch suspected of masterminding it. Naturally he’s drawn, along with his fiancée, into a dangerous mission to derail the scheme, which involves not only monetary malfeasance but a terrorist attack.

Despite the contemporary trappings, “Jack Ryan” is basically an old-fashioned tale reminiscent more of an episode of the old “Mission Impossible” television series than of the high-octane Tom Cruise movies based on it.

The result might be a bit sedate for those accustomed to splashier action fare, but except for the overly familiar last-minute rescue of New York in the final reel, it’s a pleasantly nostalgic piece of spy nonsense.

 

“Gimme Shelter”

A strong pro-life message is the most notable facet of “Gimme Shelter” (wide release), an earnest but manipulative tale of a teen who chooses to carry her baby to term rather than terminate her unwanted pregnancy.

Vanessa Hudgens sheds the good-girl image of the “High School Musical” movies to play Apple, a surly 15-year-old who escapes her abusive drug-addict mother to find the father she’s never met. He takes her in, but when it becomes apparent that she’s pregnant, he suggests an abortion.

Apple goes on the run again, winding up — through the agency of a kindly priest (James Earl Jones) — at a shelter designed for girls in her circumstances. There she not only has the baby but learns the true meaning of family.

Hudgens looks the part of Apple, but her acting is wooden, and the supporting cast — including not only Jones but Brendan Fraser as her father — is surprisingly weak, and the film’s ending is both implausible and cloying.

So while “Gimme Shelter” is based on a true story and certainly means well, it comes across more as after school special than convincing drama.

 

“I, Frankenstein”

The shadow of the “Underworld” franchise — which posited a “secret war” between vampires and werewolves — hangs heavy over “I, Frankenstein” (wide release), based on the premise that the good doctor’s two-hundred-year old creature (Aaron Eckhard) is drawn into another hidden conflict, this one between angelic gargoyles and demons whose nefarious leader intends to reanimate millions of human corpses, have them possessed by his followers and use them to destroy humankind.

This ludicrous plot is actually reminiscent of Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made. “I, Frankenstein” isn’t appreciably better, but it probably won’t achieve the same degree of notoriety, so there’s no incentive to suffer through it.

 

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