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Recliner Reviews | From cars to horror, all three of these films are worth a watch

Paul Walker as Brian, in a scene from “Furious 7.” AP photo via Universal Pictures.
Paul Walker as Brian, in a scene from “Furious 7.” AP photo via Universal Pictures. AP

“Furious 7”

It’s such a bittersweet success to lose Paul Walker during the filming in a car crash yet pull in more than $1 billion at the box office.

They finished the film by replacing him with stuntmen, CGI effects and his brothers, Caleb and Cody, as body doubles. It made for quite an emotional action flick, and probably the best of the bunch.

These movies have become a steady job for mediocre actors like Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris. They’re another big paycheck for Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

They’re constantly upping the ante on fight scenes. This time they do by adding Jason Statham. Kurt Russell brings old-school swagger and charisma. Director James Wan (“Insidious” and “The Conjuring”) takes a break from making horror flicks so he can blow stuff up and choreograph crazy-mad stunts.

Shakespeare it’s not, but it’s another chance to watch Diesel and Johnson throw out shameless amounts of one-liners, and it’s Walker’s last film. I guess that makes it worth a watch.

“Love & Mercy”

Paul Dano and John Cusack both take on the role of Beach Boy Brian Wilson at two crucial times of his life. Dano plays him in the ‘60s during his creative heights and beginnings of his emotional break. Cusack handles his turbulent ‘80s.

Elizabeth Banks does a commendable job as Wilson’s love interest, but professional scene-stealer, Paul Giamatti, really does strong-arm every moment of screen time as controversial therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.

The real star here is the soundtrack from Academy Award winner Atticus Ross, who blends together a Beach Boys’ sound collage and makes you remember what a great songwriter Wilson is.

There are times when this biopic feels by the book, but it’s still fun to watch Dano and Cusack ping-pong this storyline back and forth. Overall, it’s entertaining, informative and worth a watch.

“Child 44”

This movie is dark.

The plot centers on a series of child murders in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The cast are real heavy hitters – Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace and Joel Kinnaman. If anybody can pull off a bleak storyline, these guys can.

Plus, this is Hardy and Oldman’s fourth film together, so they have certain chemistry. Oldman yells, Hardy broods. Kinnaman is a bit one-note, but his one-note is nice to hear.

Rapace continuously works at making herself unlikable onscreen so she can redeem herself before the closing credits.

Director Daniel Espinosa (“Safe House”) sets a dismal mood. It’s constant and unflinching and feels like a classic Russian film. Richard Price (“Clockers”) continues to demonstrate why he’s one of the smartest screenwriters working today.

His characters aren’t heroes or villains. They’re products of their time and their environments. Don’t be a baby – go into the dark, because it’s worth a watch.

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