OPENING THIS WEEK:
The Hitman's Bodyguard As Cecily Strong once sarcastically declared at the White House Correspondents Dinner, "It was a great year for women. Just like always." But this actually was a fairly decent summer when it came to representations of women in movies, with Wonder Woman leading the box office and some of the other hits exhibiting a rather progressive bent when it comes to issues of sex and gender.
In particular, what was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 about but the terrible things some men do to women, and the need for other, better men to get in touch with their proverbial feminine side as counterbalance? And consider the movie's most quoted line, Yondu's confused but defiant battle cry, "I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!" On the surface, that gag seems like typical locker-room stuff: The guy doesn't know he's comparing himself to a chick, har har har! But upon closer consideration, the point is just the opposite – namely, that Yondu would be totally justified in so identifying, because Poppins is indeed a complete badass. It could be one of the most genuinely gender-fluid moments I've witnessed in a theater.
Which brings me to The Hitman's Bodyguard, and my worries that the lucky streak might be over. Everything I've seen so far of this asshole-buddy action comedy portends more of the mutual attempted emasculation dudebros consider the height of entertainment. Respected protection agent Ryan Reynolds has to babysit his arch-nemesis, master hitman Samuel L. Jackson, so the latter can stay alive long enough to testify against an international criminal. And how are you going to spend that time but slapping each other around Three Stooges-style while assigning each other all manner of supposedly feminine characteristics? Even the movie's poster is a play on the one for The Bodyguard, with Jackson in the place of Whitney Houston as the damsel in distress. It's the kind of thing Scrubs' Dr. Cox would laugh his ass off at.
It also has the weekend entirely to itself as far as wide releases go, which means it'll probably be considered a success on one level or another. To be fair, exhibitors at last March's CinemaCon seemed enthusiastic, and the project had been plucked from the 2011 Black List of best unproduced scripts. Then again, know what else was on that year's list? Dirty Grandpa. Sounds like this is going to be a great weekend for guys who like to beat the snot out of each other in an Ale House parking lot. Just like always. (R)
Shot Caller Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays a successful financier and family man who has to assume a tough-guy persona in order to survive in prison when he's sent there on a DUI. Nobody seemed particularly interested in this scenario when it was Will Ferrell navigating it, but maybe the spectacle of a white man reinventing himself as a guy named Money will prove more enticing when it isn't played for laughs? Yet another picture picked up in the Relativity Media fire sale, which is like the Black List of detritus. (R)
Wind River Hell or High Water screenwriter Taylor Sheridan makes his directorial debut, casting Elizabeth Olsen as a greenhorn FBI agent who teams up with an intrepid tracker (Jeremy Renner) to investigate the murder of a teenage girl on an Indian reservation. So it's basically Twin Peaks meets The Silence of the Lambs meets Jeremiah Johnson meets ... I got nothin'. You take it, Village Voice: " ... like an unusually well-made episode of CSI: Wyoming." Well played, city slickers! (R)