This week’s movies worth seeing feature thrills on the internet, in the wilderness and inside a cryogenic pod, plus a knife-wielding plush toy and the return of a certain maverick pilot.
The latest movie from producer Timur Bekmambetov’s Screenlife brand tells a more grounded story than previous Screenlife movies like “Unfriended” and “Searching,” while still confining the action to what can be seen on the main character’s computer screen. Bekmambetov himself directs the story of a British journalist (Valene Kane) who creates a false online persona to connect with an ISIS recruiter (Shazad Latif of “Star Trek: Discovery”). The movie explores questions of identity, placing the viewer right alongside the protagonist as she loses sight of herself in dangerous and heartbreaking ways.
Now playing in theaters.
“Those Who Wish Me Dead”
Filmmaker Taylor Sheridan made his mark with complex, engrossing thrillers “Sicario,” “Hell or High Water” and “Wind River,” but his latest is a bit more simplistic. Sheridan offers a throwback to ’90s thrillers with his adaptation of Michael Koryta’s novel about a Montana smokejumper (Angelina Jolie) who protects a 13-year-old boy from hired assassins, all while a wildfire rages around them. The plot is streamlined and sometimes silly, but the performances (including Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen as the villains) are solid, the pacing is lively, and the action is visceral and exciting.
Now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.
Horror veteran Alexandre Aja (“High Tension,” “Crawl”) creates a tense, claustrophobic thriller within a single cramped enclosure. Mélanie Laurent gives a mesmerizing performance as a woman who wakes up in a cryogenic pod with no memory of who she is or how she got there, only the urgent information that the oxygen in the pod is quickly running out. Aja and screenwriter Christie LeBlanc gradually fill in details about the sci-fi world outside, but it’s Laurent’s intense, emotional performance that keeps the audience invested as the movie unfolds essentially in real time.
Now streaming on Netflix.
“Benny Loves You”
A stuffed toy turns homicidal in writer/director/star Karl Holt’s demented horror comedy. When his adult owner Jack (Holt) discards him, Benny comes to life, filled with murderous rage. Benny kills anyone who threatens or gets too close to mopey loser Jack, whether that’s a banker trying to take Jack’s house or the attractive co-worker putting the moves on him. Holt’s off-kilter sense of humor and penchant for gore recall the early works of Peter Jackson and Edgar Wright, and Benny remains cute even when hacking people to pieces.
Now available for VOD rental.
Long-awaited “Top Gun” sequel “Maverick” has been delayed numerous times (it’s currently set to be released in November), but that doesn’t mean fans can’t celebrate the 35th anniversary of the original. Tom Cruise’s hotshot Naval pilot and his need for speed head back to theaters, remastered for the Dolby Cinema experience. Tony Scott’s 1986 action film is made to be experienced on a big screen, with its mid-air battles and glistening hot bodies. The roars of the jet engines (and the sounds of Kenny Loggins and Berlin on the soundtrack) will envelop viewers in Dolby Atmos sound.
Now playing at AMC Town Square.