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‘Legend’ ‘Rock the Kasbah’ and ‘Mockingjay 2’ all in this week’s Recliner Review

Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.”
Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.”

“Legend”

Tom Hardy’s emergence as a powerhouse leading actor has been dominated by his bully roles, but if you go back and watch 2013’s “Locke” and you see him alone in a car for 90 minutes, talking on a phone. It’s just an understated and terrific performance.

This film allows him to have the best of both those worlds, embodying real-life British gangsters – Reggie and Ron Kray. Reggie is a sly ladies man. Ron is a brutish maniac. Both are capable of intense violence.

Hardy transforms seamlessly and makes the movie a real experience. His costar, Emily Browning, gives a captivating performance of her own. Writer/director Brian Helgeland’s acumen as a filmmaker spans from the very British, “A Knight's Tale,” to the biopic, “42.” He does a nice job tying these two subgenres into a nice-looking period piece. The story does leave out large portions of the Kray history, but their messy lives make for a tidy movie, and Hardy gets one step closer to creating his own legend – worth a watch.

“Rock the Kasbah”

Thanks to his great disposition and Wes Anderson, Bill Murray has managed to remain a leading man at 65 years-old. Unfortunately, this is one of those kitchen-sink movies where everything gets thrown in to see what floats.

Sure, Murray is here. Hollywood legend Barry Levinson is brought to direct, and they toss Mitch Glazer (“Scrooged”) in a chair to write Murray some material. It’s all paint by numbers.

Current cutie Zooey Deschanel has a small role, but her cute is rubbed off and replaced with annoying. I’m still not sure what Kate Hudson and Bruce Willis do in this movie. Danny McBride and Scott Caan show up for some fun reason. A plot comes into play involving gender violence in the Middle East which gets extremely unbelievable.

The good news is Palestinian actress Leem Lubany is delightful, and Murray has some nice moments, but it’s still barely worth a watch.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2”

Let’s start with the goodbye. This is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last film. You will be missed, Mr. Hoffman. Now, let’s get hungry, because four films in, and this franchise finale still feels like it has something to prove. The chemistry between Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth has only evolved into pure weirdness (in a good way).

Director Francis Lawrence took the helm on the second film and built the action-packed world of Suzanne Collins’ novels. This world is intensely alive with her characters because of the performances of Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci and the other well-placed actors. This should be the model of how young-adult franchises are done. It propelled a well-deserved Lawrence into stardom. It gave girls a kickass action hero, and it’s worth a watch.

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