Movie guide: 'A Simple Favor,' 'Predator' opening this week

 
Updated 9/13/2018 1:04 PM
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  • A fashion publicist (Blake Lively) goes missing after leaving her son with a friend in "A Simple Favor."

    A fashion publicist (Blake Lively) goes missing after leaving her son with a friend in "A Simple Favor." Courtesy of Lionsgate

Movies in theaters the week of Sept. 14

Ratings guide: Four stars: superior. Three stars: good. Two stars: average. One star: poor. D (drug use), L (language), N (nudity), S (sexual situations, references), V (violence). Ratings by Film Critic Dann Gire, unless otherwise noted.

Opening this week

"The Basement" -- An obnoxious musician (Cayleb Long) is abducted and tortured by a serial killer who dresses as a creepy clown, cop and more in a wince-inducing endurance test that makes the "Saw" movies appear downright moralistic. Not rated; V, L, N. 89 minutes. ★

"Danger One" -- Paramedics discover $1 million sewn into a dying man's clothes. Their decision to keep the money lands them in trouble. Not reviewed. (NR) 101 minutes.

"Mandy" -- Nicolas Cage plays a lumberjack as a full-blown Shakespearean figure filled with revenge for the religious cult members who burned his lover to death in Panos Cosmatos' hallucinatory. wannabe-cult-thriller. In limited release. (NR) V, L. 120 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"The Predator" -- A mercenary (Boyd Holbrook) teams up with an evolutionary biologist (Olivia Munn) and others to battle aliens, but plot and character become collateral damage in a free-for-all of goofy jokes, blood-splattering violence, cluttered visual effects and preposterous stunts. (R) L, S, V. 107 minutes. ★ ★

"A Simple Favor" -- A fashion publicist (Blake Lively) disappears after leaving her son with a friend (Anna Kendrick) in Paul Feig's hybrid of twisty mystery and absurdist comedy. The film makes a better comedy than thriller. Reviewed by Sonia Rao, Washington Post. (R) D, L, N, S, V. 116 minutes. ★ ★

"Unbroken: Path to Redemption" -- The sequel picks up the true story of Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini as he marries, wrestles with despair and finds faith. Not reviewed. (PG-13) V. 98 minutes.

"Where Hands Touch" -- In Germany in 1944, a biracial teen (Amandla Stenberg) connects with the son of a prominent Nazi. Not reviewed. (PG-13) L, S, V. 122 minutes.

"White Boy Rick" -- A 14-year-old (newcomer Richie Merritt) turns FBI informant to avoid prosecution for selling guns to drug dealers with his father (Matthew McConaughey) in an interesting -- and depressing -- fact-based crime drama. When he's cut loose, Rick puts his new skills to use as a real drug dealer. Reviewed by Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post. (R) D, L, N, S, V. 110 minutes. ★ ★

"A Wizard's Tale" -- A child is transported to a magical kingdom under the gloomy spell of an evil wizard in this animated story. Not reviewed. (NR) 97 minutes.

Picks

"Ant-Man and the Wasp" -- Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) agrees to help Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), aka The Wasp, and Dr. Hank Pym (a hilariously curmudgeonly Michael Douglas) rescue his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm in the nuttiest, most ridiculous and best-executed superhero comedy in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (PG-13) V. 118 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"BlacKkKlansman" -- Spike Lee's spot-on, politically prescient serio-comedy stars an affable but edgeless John David Washington as a real-life black Colorado Springs cop who infiltrates the local Ku Klux Klan, with the help of a Jewish cop played by Adam Driver. The result is Lee's most accessible, impassioned and go-for-broke work since "Do the Right Thing." (R) L, S, V. 88 minutes. ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Bookshop" -- This quiet drama tells the gently bittersweet tale of a widow whose dream is to open a bookstore. But mostly, it's a pretext to watch three great actors -- Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson and Bill Nighy -- do their thing. Reviewed by Michael O'Sullivan. (PG) 113 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Christopher Robin" -- Ewan McGregor stars as the title character in a beautifully composed but unsurprisingly conventional fantasy in which Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang set out to save their now grown-up human friend from a bad case of acute adulthood. (PG) 104 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Crazy Rich Asians" -- An economics professor from China (Henry Golding) brings his girlfriend (Constance Wu) to Singapore for a friend's wedding and to meet his parents. She's shocked to find out they're multimillionaires. The hotly anticipated rom-com, featuring an all-Asian cast, does not disappoint. Reviewed by Ann Hornaday, Washington Post. (PG-13) L. 121 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Incredibles 2" -- Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and their kids face discrimination, role reversals and a menacing new villain in Brad Bird's action-packed animated sequel. It's smart, witty and engaging -- if not as sleek as the original. (PG) 112 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Juliet, Naked" -- A reclusive musician (Ethan Hawke) connects with the girlfriend (Rose Bryne) of an obsessive fan (Chris O'Dowd) in a sweet, smart rom-com about human connection and the capacity for hope. Reviewed by Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post. (R) L. 98 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" -- The incandescent Lily James plays a younger Donna (Meryl Streep) during an eventful summer where she meets (and sleeps with) the three men who could be the father of her daughter (Amanda Seyfried). It's a ridiculous yet fun romp soundtracked by ABBA. Reviewed by Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press. (PG-13) S. 114 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Mission: Impossible -- Fallout" -- Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the Impossible Missions Force must recover three stolen plutonium cores that an arms dealer and a terrorist group intend to use to target the world's holiest of places. Cruise blows way past James Bond for sheer athleticism and astonishing stunts in this tightly wound thriller. (PG-13) L, V. 147 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"The Nun" -- This fifth installment of "The Conjuring" series relies on classic horror archetypes in telling the origin story of demon nun Valek. This time, our protagonist is Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a novitiate who is dispatched by the Vatican, along with Father Burke (Demian Bichir), to a remote Romanian abbey where a young nun has just hung herself. Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (R) V. 96 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Searching" -- John Cho stars as a desperate father who uses his daughter's computer to search for the missing teen, discovering along the way how little he knew her. Aneesh Chaganty's timely thriller unfolds largely through a single computer screen and depicts how cruel people can be on the web. (PG-13) D, L, S. 102 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Teen Titans GO! to the Movies" -- The animated adventure, based on the manic and underrated Cartoon Network show, gleefully skewers the world of superheroes and the film industry itself. The Teen Titans want their own superhero franchise, so they band together to force Hollywood to take them seriously. Reviewed by Mark Kennedy, Associated Press. (PG) 88 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"The Wife" -- Bjorn Runge's sublimely wrought drama captures the complex and contradictory nuances that accompany long-term marriages. Glenn Close stars as the wife of a celebrated author, creating a subtle, astonishing performance worthy of an Oscar nomination. (R) L, S. 100 minutes. ★ ★ ★

Passables

"Alpha" -- Sheer spectacle dominates Albert Hughes' ambitious and flawed prehistoric adventure about the pivotal moment when a man first domesticates a wolf, paving the way for lupines to earn their canine status and work toward the coveted title "Man's Best Friend." With Kodi Smit-McPhee. (PG-13) V. 97 minutes. ★ ★

"Operation Finale" -- Ben Kingsley paints a chilling portrait of Adolf Eichmann in Chris Weitz's post-WWII wannabe thriller about Israeli agents abducting the former Nazi administrator and forcing him to stand trial for his war crimes during the Holocaust. With Oscar Isaac and Nick Kroll. (PG-13) L, V. 109 minutes. ★ ★

"Peppermint" -- Jennifer Garner stars as a mom who learns how to dispatch bad guys in all sorts of gruesome and psychotically theatrical ways to avenge the murders of her husband and daughter by agents of a powerful drug boss in Pierre Morel's cliched, bloody revenge tale. Reviewed by Lindsay Bahr. (R) L, V. 102 minutes. ★ ★

"Skyscraper" -- Dwayne Johnson defies the laws of physics and the limits of human endurance as a security consultant trying to saving his family from a burning skyscraper targeted by terrorists in Rawson Marshall Thurber's engaging but ridiculous and derivative disaster film. (PG-13) L, V. 103 minutes. ★ ★

"The Spy Who Dumped Me" -- A store clerk (Mila Kunis) and her over-the-top BFF (the wonderful Kate McKinnon) get caught up with spies and must deliver an important USB drive to Vienna in a comic buddy movie that has trouble balancing bloody action scenes and screwball comedy. Reviewed by Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press. (R) L, N, S, V. 116 minutes. ★ ★

Pits

"God Bless the Broken Road" -- A financially strapped young widow (Lindsay Pulsipher) is drawn to a race car driver (Andrew W. Walker) in a well-meaning but contrived faith-based drama. Characters, for the most part, feel more like inspirational pawns than real people. Reviewed by Pat Padua, Washington Post. (PG) 105 minutes. ★

"The Happytime Murders" -- Cute and coarse clash badly in this adult-themed film noir with felt from Brian Henson, son of Jim. A puppet private eye and his ex-partner (Plainfield's Melissa McCarthy) investigate a series of murders in a film that seeks laughs from puppets snorting glitter and searching for porn. Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (R) D, L, S. 91 minutes. ★

"Mile 22" -- Mark Wahlberg stars as a CIA operative who must cross 22 dangerous miles to deliver an important foreign intelligence agent in this ultimately confusing and utterly disorienting film. Reviewed by Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press. (R) L, V. 90 minutes. ★

Unpreviewed

"A.X.L" -- A young outsider bonds with a robotic dog he finds in the desert. Together, they must protect each other from the military scientists looking for their top-secret creation. (PG) 98 minutes.

"Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" -- The animated monsters set sail on a cruise ship, where Dracula falls for a mysterious captain. (PG) 97 minutes.

"Slender Man" -- In a small Massachusetts town, a group of friends attempt to prove that Slender Man, of internet lore fame, doesn't exist … until one of them goes missing. (PG-13) L, S. 93 minutes.

"Three Identical Strangers" -- A coincidence reunites identical triplets, separated at birth. But, as this documentary shows, the reunion unveiled a terrible secret. (PG-13) for thematic material. 96 minutes.

Foreign language

"C/o Kancharapalem" -- In Telugu.

"Gold" -- In Hindi.

"The How's of Us" -- In Tagalog.

"Manmarziyaan" -- In Hindi.

"Paltan" -- In Hindi.

"Parwaaz Hai Junoon" -- In Urdu.

"Sailaja Reddy Alludu" -- In Telugu.

"Seema Raja" -- In Tamil.

"Stree" -- In Hindi.

"U Turn" -- In Telugu.

"Ya Veremos" -- In Spanish.

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