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TV
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Starring: Steven Seagal Isaiah Washington
Genre: Crime
Theatrical: 2001   Rated: R
Duration: 101
Summary: One can always count on Steven Seagal to act as the repository of yesterday's action-film clichés, and Exit Wounds is yet another case in point. Seagal plays Detroit cop Orin Boyd, a lone wolf lawman who gets in the middle of his precinct's losing battle against police corruption. Taking on a powerful but crooked cop named Montini (David Vadim)--who is busy making deals with a rich gangster (DMX)--Boyd soon sends fists and feet flying while Tom Arnold provides the comic relief. Director Andrzej Bartkowiak surely had less fun guiding Seagal through slow-motion fight sequences than he did Jet Li in Romeo Must Die, but as compensation he gets to work with the mesmerizing DMX, who looks as though he has leading-man possibilities. Plenty of gratuitous gore, awful cop banter, and miles of cleavage courtesy of Jill Hennessy, who plays Boyd's tough-as-nails boss. --Tom Keogh


Director: Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Denzel Washington James Woods
Genre: Crime
Theatrical: 2002   Rated: PG-13
Duration: 112
Summary: It's impossible to walk away from John Q. without thinking about the film that could have been. The pathetic state of health care in the U.S. and the desperate behavior it engenders is not only worthy but edgy material; no doubt director Nick Cassavetes (She's So Lovely) and Denzel Washington (as well as Robert Duvall, Ray Liotta, James Woods, and Anne Heche) were drawn to the provocative pitch. The only snag is that John Q. has about as much edge as an after-school special. Washington plays John Quincy Archibald, a hard-working factory worker whose house stands to be repossessed and whose lovely wife (Kimberly Elise) is at her wits' end. When his extremely cute son collapses while rounding the bases in a Little League game, things go from bad to worse. John Q. takes a downtown Chicago emergency room hostage when he learns that the heart transplant his son needs won't be performed because his health care doesn't cover it. The action-drama that ensues--replete with one-liners, stilted debate, inept snipers, and multiple references to O.J. Simpson's white Bronco--is so littered with clichés that the issues, timely ones, get lost in a crescendo of melodrama. --Fionn Meade


Director: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Nicolas Cage Bridget Moynahan Jared Leto Shake Tukhmanyan Jean-Pierre Nshanian Jared Burke Eric Uys David Shumbris Stewart Morgan Jasper Lenz Kobus Marx Stephan De Abreu Jeremy Crutchley Ian Holm Tanya Finch Lize Jooste Yaseen Abdullah Donald Sutherland David Harman (II) Neil Tweddle
Genre: Crime
Theatrical: 2005   Rated: R
Duration: 121
Summary: The lethal business of arms dealers provides an electrifying context for the black-as-coal humor of Andrew Niccol's Lord of War. Having proven his ingenuity as the writer of The Truman Show, and writer-director of Gattaca and the under-appreciated Simone, Niccol is clearly striving for Strangelovian relevance here as he chronicles the rise and inevitable fall of Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage), a Ukrainian immigrant to America who makes his fortune selling every kind of ordnance he can get his amoral hands on. With a trophy wife (Bridget Moynahan) who's initially clueless about his hidden career, and a younger brother (Jared Leto) whose drug-addled sense of decency makes him an ill-chosen accomplice, Yuri traffics in death the way other salesman might push vacuum cleaners (he likes to say that alcohol and tobacco are deadlier products than his), but even he can't deny the sheer ruthlessness of the Liberian dictator (a scene-stealing Eamonn Walker) who purchases Orlov's "products" to expand his oppressive regime. Niccol's themes are even bigger than Yuri's arms deals, and he drives them home with a blunt-force lack of subtlety, but Cage gives the film the kind of insanely dark humor it needs to have. To understand this monster named Yuri, we have to see at least a glimpse of his humanity, which Cage provides as only he can. Otherwise, this epic tale of gunrunnng would be as morally unbearable as the black market trade it illuminates. --Jeff Shannon


Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Brad Pitt Angelina Jolie Vince Vaughn Adam Brody Kerry Washington Keith David Chris Weitz Rachael Huntley Michelle Monaghan Stephanie March Jennifer Morrison (II) Theresa Barrera Perrey Reeves Melanie Tolbert Jerry T. Adams Elijah Alexander Hans F. Alexander Lauryn Alvarez Burke Armstrong Ron Bottitta
Genre: Crime
Theatrical: 2005   Rated: PG-13
Duration: 112
Summary: Released amidst rumors of romance between costars Angelina Jolie and soon-to-be-divorced Brad Pitt, Mr. and Mrs. Smith offers automatic weapons and high explosives as the cure for marital boredom. The premise of this exhausting action-comedy (no relation to the 1941 Alfred Hitchcock comedy starring Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery) is that the unhappily married Smiths (Pitt and Jolie) will improve their relationship once they discover their mutually-hidden identities as world-class assassins, but things get complicated when their secret-agency bosses order them to rub each other out. There's plenty of amusing banter in the otherwise disposable screenplay by Simon Kinberg (xXx: State of the Union, Fantastic Four), and director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) gives Pitt and Jolie a slick, glossy superstar showcase that's innocuous but certainly never boring. It could've been better, but as an action-packed summer confection, Mr. and Mrs. Smith kills two hours in high style. --Jeff Shannon