CINEMA SIMEON: 'Unsullied' premiere
Simeon Rice hasn't been a rookie since 1996, when he was picked third overall in the NFL draft.
Now 41, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end, Super Bowl champion and three-time Pro Bowler is a rookie again, playing a much different game.
Rice makes his feature film directing debut with Unsullied (R), "an action-thriller-suspense (movie)," he said, calling from Chicago. "I like to say all three."
Filmed around Tampa Bay, Unsullied gets a red carpet premiere Saturday in St. Petersburg before opening Aug. 28 in wider release.
Unsullied is the story of Reagan (Murray Gray), a track star kidnapped and sexually assaulted by sociopaths who begin hunting her for sport. Rice dreamed up the story and co-wrote the screenplay with John Nodilo.
"It's truly, at its heart, a coming of age story ..." Rice said. "A dangerous game of kill or be killed."
After retiring from the NFL in 2007, Rice graduated from New York Film Academy by 2009 and debuted his first short, When I Was King, during Super Bowl week in 2011. He laughed when asked what's tougher: making a movie or getting past an offensive lineman.
"They're two different beasts, you know?" he said. "Two different levels of conversation in terms of what you typically go through, trying to get a movie made, hustling and trying to get around a 300-pound man who has worked on his skill set his whole life.
"Playing (football) was a lot more natural for me, something I worked on my whole life," Rice said. "Doing a film has been a very, very enlightening experience. Great heights and unforeseen pitfalls.
"But they're two different environments, two totally different dimensions. I respect them both for what they are. You can try to juxtapose them, speaking about them like they're similar in parallel universes, but they are completely different."
Unsullied's premiere begins at 5 p.m. Saturday at St. Petersburg's Sundial 19. Rice and cast members will be inside by 7 to introduce the screening. At 9, the action shifts to NOVA 535, 535 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, for an after-show party.
Tickets to the movie are $10. Visit nova535.com for VIP packages ($25-$5,000). A portion of the proceeds benefits the SHINE Mural Festival in St. Petersburg.
MUNCHIES MOVIE: 'American Ultra'
This time, Kristen Stewart has an excuse for those droopy, disaffected expressions. She's playing a stoner in American Ultra (R), which plays like The Clerks Ultimatum in preview trailers.
Stewart plays Phoebe, whose bongmate boyfriend Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) handles the night shift at a convenience store. Mike has a double life so clandestine even he doesn't know about it. Trained to kill by a government agency, Mike is triggered into action by a spy (Connie Britton) with an agenda.
Eisenberg and Stewart made an interesting team in 2009's Adventureland, and director Nima Nourizadeh is a curiosity: the son of an Iranian scholar and journalist, whose only previous movie is the outrageous high school party flick Project X. In the proper frame of mind, American Ultra could be fun.
Probably not though. Click here for a review.
Don't expect much from Hitman: Agent 47 (R), however, unless you're a video gamer and therefore predisposed to enjoy this stuff. Rupert Friend stars as Agent 47, who you may surmise from the title is an assassin. What a novel idea for a game. The twist is that he's genetically engineered to kill, deriving the best parts of 46 agents before him. Kind of like the way the movie is probably constructed.
Finally, there's Sinister 2 (R), featuring another family moving into the wrong house. The twist here is that it's a single parent (Shannyn Sossamon) and twin sons (Robert Daniel and Dartanian Sloan) because twins are creepier, according to the horror sequel handbook.
OPENS WEDNESDAY: 'No Escape'
Owen Wilson has done well for himself since 2001, exclusively playing comedies of one sort or another. This one's no laughing matter.
Wilson's first dramatic role since Behind Enemy Lines is the political family crisis No Escape (R), opening next Wednesday (Aug. 26) because no one will care by next Friday.
No Escape casts Wilson as Jack Dwyer, who moves his family to Malaysia, just in time for a good view of a bloody coup. Pierce Brosnan co-stars as the guy telling them to flee. There is, as the title suggests, no escape. But we in theater seats know better, don't we?
Sept. 4: The Transporter Refueled; Jane Got a Gun; Mistress America; Learning to Drive
Sept. 11: The Perfect Guy; The Visit; Sleeping With Other People; Time Out of Mind
Sept. 18: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials; Everest; Black Mass; Sicario
Sept. 25: Grandma; Hotel Transylvania 2; The Intern; Before I Wake; 99 Homes