The Double

[2.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Giving this a whole two stars is kind of a stretch. It's arty and pretentious. I nodded off for long periods. When I do that during other movies, I sometimes feel obligated to re-watch the DVD to at least fill in the gaps; I didn't feel that obligation here.

Anyway: it's based on the Dostoyevsky story of the same title. (Considered by most critics to not be one of his better efforts.) Jesse Eisenberg plays nebbish Simon, working at a soul-draining job in some unspecified bureaucracy, disrespected and ignored by everyone.

Things change when James shows up. He's everything Simon is not: charismatic, interesting, popular. But here's the thing: James and Simon look exactly alike. (My keen eye discerned that this was primarily due to both roles being played by Jesse Eisenberg.) The two develop a relationship, but it's an unhealthy one.

The setting is dark and surrealistic, with absurdist and stilted dialogue, and unbelievable characters. Basically, a 93-minute nightmare for Simon, but I don't think he wakes up. Or, if he did, I missed it.

John Wick

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Comic-book movie? I wondered. It turns out not. I'm kind of ashamed to admit I liked it as much as I did.

The titular character is played by Keanu Reeves. (Looking at his IMDB page, I'm pretty sure this is the first movie I've seen with him in it since the ultra-forgettable Street Kings and A Scanner Darkly (both 2008). He's recently lost his wife (Bridget Moynahan), and then some bad-guy Russian mobsters do something really nasty. Revenge is called for.

Dickensian coincidence: it turns out that Wick used to be a hired killer for the father of one of the bad guys. (What are the chances? In the real world, zero.) So, in effect, it's Wick against the entire Russian mafia, at least the part that's based around New York.

There are a lot of good actors in supporting roles: Michael Nyqvist as the Russian Godfather; Dean Winters (I miss Battle Creek very much) as the mob consigliere; Willem Dafoe and Adrianne Palicki as fellow hit-people; there's even a small role for the great John Leguizamo as a chop-shop proprietor who (nevertheless) has certain principles.

MPAA: "strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use". They ain't kiddin'.