BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A family film of faith and a high-energy heist movie – both opening in theaters – top this week’s entertainment options.
“Walking with Herb” Grade 3 stars: Too often movies dealing with issues of faith try to deliver their message with a baseball bat. This film prefers the lighter touch of a putter.
Joe Amable-Amo (Edward James Olmos) is a bank executive and former amateur golfer who is having a crisis of faith after a tragedy. His search for a way to get out of the darkness brings Herb (George Lopez) into his life.
Herb tells Joe that God wants him to do what seems like the impossible. He is to enter a world championship golf tournament and win it. Herb will be his caddy and mentor in the quest.
Mark Medoff’s script pushes the limits of reality as Joe battles his way through his own emotional and spiritual demons – plus some rusty golf swings. But, the idea that the world can be changed by something so trivial is a message that is much needed.
The key to the film having so much weight comes from Olmos. He finds that delicate line between remaining a believer and becoming a cynic. Olmos always makes a project better by his mere presence.
Olmos is not alone as Lopez turns in the best acting performance of his career. He’s the most interesting angel on film since Clarence got his wings in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Their performances combined with a story that finds power in being subtle with its message makes “Walking with Herb” strokes better than the average faith-based film.
“Wrath of Man” Grade 3 stars: An armored car gets robbed in a well-orchestrated attack that leaves three dead and a lot of money missing. Why this robbery occurred and what happens in its aftermath are revealed in two different storylines that eventually come together.
One storyline has a mysterious man of few words – known as H played by Jason Statham – landing a job as a cash truck security guard after the fatal heist. H barely passes the tests to get the job but once at work, he shows amazing skills during a robbery. There’s nothing average in the way he can use a gun and take care of bad guys. His history with the fatal robbery becomes the driving force of one storyline.
At the same time, director Guy Ritchie fills in the blanks of how the robbery was planned and executed with the other storyline. It is the work of a well-trained team of ex-military played by the likes of Jeffrey Donovan, Scott Eastwood and Laz Alonso.
It is where these two elements come together that is the catalyst for the wall-shaking, teeth-rattling action finale. This is a film where the number of bullets fired massively exceeds the total lines of dialogue. The combination of Ritchie’s unpredictable direction and Statham’s brooding machismo makes “Wrath of Man” a real killer.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
“The Little Things” Grade 3 ½ stars: Denzel Washington plays the life-weary Joe Deacon, a former Los Angeles detective who left his job in the big city under less than ideal circumstances years ago with a murder investigation still pending. That event continues to haunt him even as he now works as a Deputy Sheriff for Kern County.
A new case ends up getting Deacon sent back to Los Angeles. While there, he is drawn into a new investigation that has the same characteristics as the one he left behind a decade ago. He tags along with Sgt. Jim Baxter – as played by Malek – to search for a serial killer who is terrorizing Los Angeles.
Their investigation leads to Albert Sparma – played with skin-crawling creepiness by Jared Leto – who treats the police like players in a bloody game. The question is whether Sparma is the real killer or just crazy enough to want to make the police believe he is involved.
Hancock’s story barely rises above the level of a TV police drama. His storylines lack the kind of originality that make fans of the genre have to work to see past the red herrings. Even the twist ending is too obvious to create the shocking punch that would have made this a better thriller.
The saving grace is that Hancock put together a superb cast and they make even the familiar feel less pedestrian. Washington is the fine wine of acting as he just keeps getting better with age. There is no doubt his character is carrying a heavy weight because of events in his past.
In lesser hands, “The Little Things” would have been a mediocre crime story. That ends up not being the case because of three Oscar nomination worthy performances by Hancock’s all-star team.
“Judas and the Black Messiah”: FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party.
“Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick”: Documentary that looks at the life of the author.
“MASTERPIECE: Atlantic Crossing”: A princess (Sofia Helin) captures the heart of President Roosevelt (Kyle MacLacklan) during World War II.
“Senior Moment”: William Shatner and Jean Smart star in this film that suggests it is never too late to find true love.
Available through digital platforms
“The Father”: A man (Anthony Hopkins) refuses all assistance from his daughter (Olivia Colman) as he ages. Will be released on DVD and Blu-ray May 18.
“Rustic Oracle”: The story of a missing teenage girl (McKenzie Kahnekaroroks Deer) is told through the eyes of her younger sister Ivy (Lake Kahentawaks Delisle).