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Movie reviews: Emily Blunt stars in intense melodrama “Sicario”

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By Jay Bobbin

Starting this week


Star Emily Blunt and director Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners”) promise to be strong factors in this film-award season for their work on this intense melodrama, casting Blunt as an FBI agent trying to dismantle a drug cartel along the U.S.-Mexico border. Ultimately, she’s not sure who to trust, including the supposed ally played by Benicio Del Toro (who walked very similar ground with his Oscar-winning role in “Traffic”). Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal (“The Walking Dead”) and Jeffrey Donovan (“Burn Notice”) also stars, and the striking cinematography is by Roger Deakins (“Skyfall”). DVD extras: four “making-of” documentaries. *** (R: AS, P, GV) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

The Walk

Director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump,” “Cast Away”) applies his knack for combining very human drama with epic adventure to the true story of Philippe Petit, who famously set out to walk a wire between the towers of New York’s World Trade Center in 1974. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is effective — and, perhaps most importantly, agile — as Petit, and even if the first half of the film feels like a by-the-numbers set-up for the second, the re-creation of the actual walk is dazzling … and absolutely not for anyone with vertigo. Ben Kingsley is typically fine as Petit’s mentor. DVD extra: “making-of” documentary. *** (PG: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

True Detective: The complete second season

While the first round of the HBO mystery series was an out of-the-park hit that generated raves, many critics felt it hit a sophomore slump with its second stanza that offered a new cast and a new premise. Still, it’s hard to argue with the caliber of the actors, as Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams play law enforcers whose paths cross with that of a corrupt businessman (Vince Vaughn, who previously worked with McAdams on much different turf in “Wedding Crashers”). Taylor Kitsch, Kelly Reilly (“Flight”), Michael Irby, Abigail Spencer (“Rectify”), David Morse and Rick Springfield also appear. DVD extras: three “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by cast and crew members. *** (Not rated: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)


Excellent, highly interdependent work by David Oyewolo (“Selma”) and Kate Mara (“House of Cards”) keeps this true drama compelling and gripping. A fugitive holds an addiction-plagued young mother and recent widow hostage, and she takes cues from Rick Warren’s best seller “The Purpose Driven Life” in dealing with her captor and trying to survive her ordeal. While Oyewolo also has shown his excellence in such projects as the one-man story “Nightingale,” this is a major step forward for Mara; Mimi Rogers and Kevin J. O’Connor also appear, but the focus remains solidly on the impressive leads. DVD extras: “making-of” documentary; interview with Warren. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on On Demand)

The Visit

With the huge success he had with “The Sixth Sense,” filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan painted himself into a corner, having prompted audiences to expect a giant “Gotcha!” surprise from his subsequent thrillers. Even if he doesn’t deliver at that level with this melodrama, he still maintains a consistently eerie feel to the tale of two youngsters (played by Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) who are unsettled by the grandparents (Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie) they meet during a trip to the elders’ farm. After the youngsters discover some things they shouldn’t have, their survival is in doubt. Kathryn Hahn also stars. DVD extras: “making-of” documentary; “Becca’s Photos.” *** (PG-13: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser

It took some time, but David Spade’s ne’er-do-well character finally returned in this comedy — originally made for the streaming service Crackle — that’s both a sequel and a prequel. Made by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions in Louisiana, where the first “Dirt” largely was set, the new tale transports Joe back to his past via a tornado and challenges him to get back to his future. Fred Wolf, who co-wrote the first “Joe Dirt” with Spade, did the same for this tale (which he also directed). Christopher Walken, Brittany Daniel, Dennis Miller and Adam Beach also reprise their original roles, with Mark McGrath and Spade’s “Rules of Engagement” co-star Patrick Warburton as new characters. ** (Not rated: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Coming soon

Hotel Transylvania 2  (Jan. 12)

Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) tries to appeal to the more monstrous side of his half-human grandson in this animated sequel. (PG: AS)

The Martian (Jan. 12)

Presumed dead and left behind by his crew, an astronaut (Matt Damon) struggles to survive on Mars. (PG-13: AS, N, P)

Everest (Jan. 19)

Climbers on the legendary and potentially lethal mountain end up in the midst of a storm; Jason Clarke stars. (PG-13: P, V)

Jem and the Holograms (Jan. 19)

A young woman (Aubrey Peeples) becomes a superstar in this live-action update of the animated show based on the doll line. (PG: AS, P)

Straight Outta Compton (Jan. 19)

The formation and survival of the controversial hip-hop group N.W.A. is dramatized; stars include Aldis Hodge and Paul Giamatti. (R and unrated versions: AS, N, P, V)

Burnt (Jan. 26)

A troubled chef (Bradley Cooper) tries to redeem himself and return to the heights of his profession in London. (R: AS, P)

FAMILY-VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.