Clint Eastwood delivers a breathtaking performance in a by turns appalling and hilarious role that recalls great ghosts of Eastwood vigilante thrillers past.
Playing Korean War vet Walt Kowalski, Eastwood spits, swears and seethes as a man who watches the world change from the front stoop of his Detroit house. Surrounded by Hmong immigrants, he has an epithet for everyone, even growling at his grandchildren. (He does love his dog and the restored 1972 Gran Torino in his driveway.)
If you can survive the F-bombs and the near-constant ethnic invective, “Gran Torino” is not to be missed, if only as the gutsy, thoroughly unexpected valedictory of an icon fully willing to spend every bit of his considerable capital.
DVD extras: featurettes; theatrical trailer. (1:56; R for pervasive profanity and violence)
Clive Owen plays Interpol agent Lou Salinger, a gruff, obsessed loner who for years has been on the trail of a corrupt bank. Now he’s working with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, specifically the comely Ella Whitman (Naomi Watts).
Directed by Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) with sober forthrightness, the film is in many ways a throwback to the monochrome urban thrillers of the 1970s, with the added and topical twist of having a diabolical financial institution at its center.
The compulsively watchable Owen makes for an ideal leading man of both action and angst. The film’s eye-popping set piece, a shootout at the Guggenheim Museum, is an extravagantly choreographed valentine to philistines everywhere.
DVD extras: commentary with Tykwer and writer Eric Singer; deleted scenes; featurettes. (1:56; R for violence and profanity.)
The pushing-30 Nicholas D’Agosto and 31-year-old Eric Christian Olsen seem a bit long in the tooth to be donning the antic mask of the sexually irrepressible high school jock in this arduous cheerleader comedy in the vein of “Bring It On.”
That cunning Kirsten Dunst frolic is watched with reverence by the cheerleaders-in-training at Southern Illinois University, where ex-footballers Shawn and Nick have insinuated themselves in hopes of fulfilling their wildest carnal dreams. Will Gluck directs with frantic, go-for-broke pacing.
DVD extras: featurettes; gag reel. (1:29; PG-13 for crude and sexual content, partial nudity, language and teen partying.)
Wayne Kramer’s multilinear immigration story recalls other similarly tangled roundelays such as “Crash” and “Babel” that dealt with the same subjects far more deftly.
Harrison Ford plays Max Brogan, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent under whose gruff, scarred exterior beats a bleeding heart of gold. Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd and Jim Sturgess appear as an immigration official, a lawyer and a musician on the prowl for a green card, respectively.
At once didactic and exploitative (Kramer makes lurid use of explosive sex and violence), the film isn’t just offensive, it’s redundant. (1:53; R for pervasive profanity, strong violence, sexuality and nudity.)
Eli Michaelson, who has just won the Nobel Prize for chemistry, is a garden-variety narcissist and egomaniac, cruel to his family and friends. When son Barkley is kidnapped, dark figures and secrets from Eli’s past emerge, rearranging the family chessboard.
It’s all wildly implausible and occasionally fun, but it could be so much better if director Randall Miller had thrown in a little more character development and excised a half-dozen crazy plot twists.
We see where this might have gone when Eli (Alan Rickman) and his wife, Sarah (Mary Steenburgen), interact for a few, normal, human minutes in a car, coming back from the Nobel ceremony. But then a gruesome package arrives, and the movie lurches back to roller-coaster mode.
DVD extras: audio commentary with Miller, writer/producer Jody Savin, musician Paul Oakenfold, cinematographer Mike Ozier and actors Brian Greenberg and Eliza Dushku; deleted scenes with optional director commentary; alternate ending. (1:50; R for violent, grisly images, language and sexuality.)
Also available: “In Love We Trust,” “The Shield: Season 7,” “Spinning Into Butter.” “Strike,” “Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music.”