Next on the Big Screen: January 2015

January 2, 2015 Updated: January 4, 2015

January 9

Taken 3

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Forest Whitaker

What: You knew it was gonna happen. Assassins coming out of retirement and bringing the thundering smack-down on deserving bad guys? We love that. They say this will be the final film in the “Taken” trilogy. We’ll see about that. First time, Bryan Mills’s daughter got taken. The second time, his daughter got taken again. This time his wife gets murdered. The police and shadowy government types think he did it, but they might also be fakers trying to frame him. Out come the tracking skills and Krav Maga combat chops to find the real bad guys and un-frame himself.



January 16


Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang, William Mapother

What: American and Chinese authorities are having trouble catching a cybercriminal, so they give superhacker Nicholas Hathaway a get-out-of-jail-free card. The search is highly dangerous, leading from Chicago to Hong Kong. A very apropos movie in light of recent headlines describing the cyberwarfare China perpetrates on the United States, not to mention the Sony debacle.


The Wedding Ringer

Starring: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Cloris Leachman

What: Jimmy (Kevin Hart) runs a rare type of business, wherein he provides best man services for socially inept, nerdy types. Doug (Josh Gad), who fits aforementioned description, is getting married and eventually hires Jimmy to help make him look good. If it doesn’t work, it’s going to be a major disaster for Doug.


Little Accidents

Starring: Elizabeth Banks, Boyd Holbrook, Josh Lucas

What: A horrendous mining accident in a small American coal town still haunts the inhabitants. A teenage boy disappears, which then brings together a local boy, a surviving miner, and a mine owner’s lonely wife, to investigate the town’s tightly kept secrets.


Son of a Gun

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Brenton Thwaites, Alicia Vikander, Matthew Nable

What: Jailed for an insignificant crime, JR, 19, quickly finds out about the dangers of prison. He soon gets protection, at a price, from Brendan Lynch, Australia’s worst criminal. Lynch has big plans. When JR gets out of prison, he has to break Lynch out. His reward is that he gets to become a member of Lynch’s gang, who are planning a bank job promising millions for all involved. What could possibly go wrong? Something does, of course, and JR soon doesn’t know who to trust anymore as he goes against Lynch.


Spare Parts

Starring: George Lopez, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Lee Curtis, Esai Morales, Alexa PenaVega

What: A true story starring George Lopez and directed by Sean McNamara (“Soul Surfer”), “Spare Parts” is about four high school students competing in a national underwater robotics competition. The students (in the country illegally from Mexico) only had $800 and some used car parts, but they still won first place over MIT and several other highly funded university teams.



January 23

The Boy Next Door

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth, John Corbett

What: Jennifer Lopez plays a high school teacher living next door to a kid who’s returned home to live with his parents and finish getting his diploma. He’s very hunky. Bad, bad teacher. Stalker student. Hacker student. Who has a gun. Enough said.



Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany

What: Mortdecai is an action comedy. Juggling the British MI5, some angry Russians, his wife, and a terrorist, dandy art dealer Charlie Mortdecai (Depp) travels around the world, relying on his charm to recover a painting containing the code to a Nazi bank account loaded with gold.


Black Sea

Starring: Jude Law, Jodie Whittaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Scoot McNairy

What: “Black Sea” is a British adventure thriller. In order to pay back former employers, a submarine captain (Jude Law) works with a shadowy backer to search the Black Sea for a Nazi submarine loaded with gold.


The Humbling

Starring: Al Pacino, Greta Gerwig, Dianne Wiest, Charles Grodin, Kyra Sedgwick

What: Al Pacino plays Simon Axler, a famous stage actor in his 60s who suddenly discovers he can’t act anymore. After a couple of bad reviews, he quits acting; he thinks about death. He checks into a psych ward, where he meets Sybil, who thinks about death too. She didn’t report her sexually predatory husband, and would like to hire Axler to kill him.




What: Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao starved as a teenager, and he boxed to feed his family. Overcoming gigantic odds, he became one of the most loved and respected athletes ever, later becoming a congressman who worked to help his people. “Manny” is feature-length documentary that recounts Pacquiao’s hardships and successes on the way to becoming a legend in his own time. Liam Neeson narrates.


Song One

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Mary Steenburgen, Johnny Flynn, Ben Rosenfield

What: Franny (Anne Hathaway), a young archaeologist on a dig, gets a call from her mother telling her that her brother’s in the hospital. She heads home to lend support. Soon after, she falls in love with her brother’s musical idol (Johnny Flynn).


January 30

Project Almanac

Starring: Jonny Weston, Amy Landecker, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Virginia Gardner

What: In “found-footage” format, we witness teenagers discovering secret plans to a time machine. Which they construct, of course. First they undo past mistakes, and then it becomes too tempting to not use it for their own earthly gain. They soon find out that changing the past causes massive consequences.


Wild Card

Starring: Jason Statham, Michael Angarano, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Hope Davis, Stanley Tucci, Jason Alexander, Sofia Vergara, Anne Heche

What: A recovering gambler whose addiction gets him in trouble in Las Vegas, Nick Wild (Jason Statham) takes odd jobs providing protection to his friends. That also means (because this is Jason Statham we’re talking about) when the mob comes to collect on his debt—they can’t.

Follow Mark on Twitter: @FilmCriticEpoch