Film capsules to get you caught up

In Theaters This Week 

Film capsules to get you caught up

Drive (R)

Ryan Gosling drives. He broods a little, maybe laughs a few times, but other than that, Gosling ... just ... drives. His nameless character spends his nights chauffeuring criminals from their heists and his days stunt-driving for movies in L.A. He doesn't say much or do much when he's not steering a car, but somehow he manages to fall for his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), a young mother whose man is in prison. When he returns home and finds out he owes some money to someone from his past, he turns to Gosling for help. Then things get bad. Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn spices up this seemingly one-note movie about cars with gory head-stomping scenes, mobsters, and Gosling's muscles. We learn nothing about his character's background, but fast cars and a cast with sex appeal to spare more than make up for it. (Courtney Kerrigan)

Apollo 18 (PG-13) — Want to know why we never went back to the moon? This movie uses found footage of what really happened to the last three astronauts who went there in 1974. Apollo 18 piles on atmosphere and increasingly loud second-rate scary scenes. And after almost 90 minutes of cheap thrills you see coming from a mile away, the Alien-meets-Blair Witch Project mockumentary — in which a lot of stuff is going on but nothing's really happening — disappears from the screen and from memory faster than you can say "NASA." (Enrique Lopetegui)

Contagion (PG-13) — Steven Soderbergh's star-studded thriller about a deadly global flu epidemic is compelling but uneven. "Patient Zero" is Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow), an executive who returns from Hong Kong with a virus that kills her and her young son, leaving husband Mitch (Matt Damon) to deal with the ghastly aftermath. As the plague spreads, worldwide panic ensues, leaving a post-apocalyptic landscape of mass graves, burning, and looting. The stories of human suffering work best, while the narratives about the scientists and a thread about a nefarious blogger (Jude Law) are freighted by clunky dialogue. A deep mistrust of modern communications is woven through this frightening cautionary tale, the real villain of which is globalization. (Pamela Zoslov)

The Debt (R) — The Debt bounces between eras, with two sets of actors telling the story of a trio of spies on a mission to bring a notorious Nazi butcher to justice in 1965. But something went wrong, and justice ended up being served on the streets of Berlin. Or was it? There's some action here, but The Debt isn't about explosions, gunfights, and car chases, which you would expect from a movie starring Helen Mirren. In that way it comes a lot closer to the lives of real-world spies than the stuff you usually see in movies. But do you really want to watch secret agents prep for their mission by talking about it? (Michael Gallucci)

Fright Night (R) — Vampire movies are rarely laughing matters, but Fright Night adds just enough humor to its gore. Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin), a high-school senior living in Las Vegas, has cool friends, a hot girlfriend, and a new neighbor, who just happens to be a vampire. Charley is suspicious at first, but when a friend goes missing, he cautiously begins spying on the possibly undead Jerry (Colin Farrell). Fright Night doesn't exactly revolutionize the genre, but Farrell nails his bloodsucker's sexual allure. (Ben Gifford)

The Last Mountain (PG) — For years Massey Energy has been blasting the tops off of West Virginia mountains to get to the precious commodity buried beneath them. In The Last Mountain, it's hard not to take sides with the citizens of Coal River Valley, for whom Massey leaves behind a trail of problems ranging from polluted streams to birth defects. But the movie slips into a renewable-energy PSA and loses some of its steam once the professional environmentalists are introduced. Yes, it's one-sided, but at least it's on the right side. (Gallucci)

Our Idiot Brother (R) — Paul Rudd stars as a long-haired, bearded, earthy do-gooder who seems to inadvertently step on every land mine along life's terrain. The movie is studded with likable stars, including Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, and Elizabeth Banks as Rudd's put-upon sisters. Still, Our Idiot Brother is heavy on situational ephemera, light on narrative thrust. (Justin Strout)

Seven Days in Utopia (G) — Golfer Luke Chisolm (Lucas Black), pushed to excel since childhood by his ambitious dad, has a humiliating meltdown during his tournament debut. He hits the road and crashes into a fence in golden-hued Utopia, Texas, where he's rescued by Robert Duvall on horseback. An ex-pro who lost his career to the bottle, he offers to help Luke find his game in seven days, teaching him the Zen of golf via fly fishing, washer tossing, and painting. Disturbingly, Seven Days in Utopia doubles as an infomercial for Christian golf retreats led by the guy who wrote the book the movie is based on. Nonetheless, there are some things to like about this old-fashioned movie. (Zoslov)

Warrior (PG-13) — Teacher Brendan Conlon resorts to fighting in makeshift parking-lot rings for extra cash to support his family. He's haunted by his formerly drunk father and his brother, a hulking war vet who returns home after a long, unexplained absence. Soon, Tommy and Brendan are training separately for an MMA event. It all culminates in a climactic championship fight that works just as well as Rocky Balboa's 15-rounder. (Strout)

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