OPENING THURSDAY: JACK REACHER
What Tom Cruise wants, Tom Cruise gets, even if it's a needless sequel even by Hollywood standards. One of his frequently unsuccessful box office performers between Mission: Impossible windfalls was 2012's Jack Reacher, based on a character created by crime novelist Lee Child to whom the actor bears no resemblance.
Cruise returns as the former military killing machine in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (PG-13), a title sounding like advice from his agent. This time around, Reacher is framed for murder as part of a government conspiracy, and must clear his name. First step: Finding Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), a commanding officer who may have had his baby. Step two involves either automatic weapons or diapers.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was screened too late for Weekend. A review will be published at tampabay.com/movies.
Keeping up with the joneses
The lighter side of special ops violence is displayed in Keeping Up With the Joneses (PG-13), starring Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher as a humdrum suburban couple welcoming new neighbors. They're the Joneses (Jon Hamm, Wonder Woman's Gal Gadot, left), who happen to be government spies. Keeping up involves dodging bombs and bullets
Read a review of Keeping Up With the Joneses here.
Also Opening: Boo! A Madea Halloween
No review for this week's other debut since Tyler Perry typically shares his comedies only with reviewers predisposed to liking them. That's the case once again for Boo! A Madea Halloween (PG-13), with Perry donning Madea's drag fat suit, for smacking sense into delinquent teenagers, poltergeists and murderers.
NIGHTMARE ON FRANKLIN STREET: TEN NIGHTS OF TERROR
Tampa Theatre's annual Halloween film series A Nightmare on Franklin Street returns Friday, unearthing 10 days of classic horror films, ghost tours and special appearances. Prices vary by event but screening sessions are $10.
The series begins Friday at 7:30 p.m. with its namesake A Nightmare on Elm Street, right, followed by the original Friday the 13th at 10. Saturday's lineup includes The Innocents (2 p.m.), Beetlejuice (4:45) and The Conjuring (7:30) with special guest Andrea Perron, whose family's haunting inspired the movie. Sunday's screenings include Hocus Pocus (2 p.m.), Psycho (4:30), Scream (7), and Halloween (10).
Tampa Theatre's popular Balcony to Backstage Ghost Tour will be conducted six times during the series, including Friday at 2 p.m., and Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for ages 2 to 12. tampatheatre.org.
INDIE FLICKS: DESIERTO
Playing out like Donald Trump's pipe dream, Desierto (R) lends a horror element to illegal U.S.-Mexican border crossers, with a self-presumed patriot using them for target practice. If this madman built a wall, it would be strictly for firing squads.
The vigilante Sam is played full snarl by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, just a spot or two down the sadism chart from his current turn on The Walking Dead. Squarely in his gun sight is a group of would-be immigrants led by Moises (Gael García Bernal), a relatable innocent for practically any viewer. Knowing that Desierto is Mexico's official Academy Awards entry hints its perspective.
Desierto is directed by Jonás Cuarón, with a measure of kinetic flair inherited from his Oscar-winning father Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity). The movie shifts into violent gear early and never really considers any other speed, or political statement beyond macho payback. The parched setting provides some interesting places for danger — we don't see enough flesh-ripping cacti in movies — but the overall effect is numbing. C (Opens Friday in select theaters)
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 American Honey: A road movie of misspent youth, poetically aimless as its characters.
2 The Birth of a Nation: Nate Parker's incendiary history lesson, still relevant today.
3 The Magnificent Seven: Rousing, old-fashioned western proving Chris Pratt is a genuine movie star.
4 Deepwater Horizon: Mark Wahlberg pays respect to victims of 2010's oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
5 Denial: Based on a true story of a Holocaust denier and a professor (Rachel Wesiz) proving him wrong.
(Dates subject to change)
Oct. 28: Inferno
Nov. 4: Doctor Strange; Trolls; American Honey; Hacksaw Ridge
Nov. 11: Arrival; Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk; Almost Christmas
Nov. 18: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Moonlight; Bleed for This; The Edge of Seventeen
Nov. 23: Moana; Bad Santa 2; Allied; Rules Don't Apply