Also Playing: Rampart, Donovan’s Echo, Act of Valor, Familiar

Sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day to review all the movies that open in various cities across Canada, even movies we adore. Also Playing is here to help us solve that problem. These are quick reviews of films still playing in theatres that we really did like and highly recommend, but have not had the chance to review properly.

A scene from 'Rampart'. Courtesy eOne Films.

Rampart
*** (out of 5 stars)
Playing in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver

Set in 1999 in Los Angeles, Rampart works largely because of the wild performance Woody Harrelson delivers as the racist, dirt bag cop he portrays. It’s very reminiscent of his Natural Born Killers character, Mickey Knox, in that you will despise and hate him when the movie ends. While it’s not as riveting as Oren Moverman’s last film, The Messenger, it is a solid follow-up that will get your blood boiling and your emotions charged. Ben Foster, Anne Heche, and Brie Larson also star.

A scene from 'Donovan's Echo'.

Donovan’s Echo
*** (out of 5 stars)
Playing in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Langley, Kelowna, and Vancouver.

Written and directed by newcomer Jim Cliffe, Donovan’s Echo is an intense thriller starring Danny Glover as a man still grieving the loss of his wife and daughter 30 years after they died in a tragic accident. He begins having feelings of déjà vu surrounding his neighbour and her young daughter and as he tries to piece together events from the past, he realizes it’s reflecting what is happening in the present. Glover is at the top of his game in this performance, as is Bruce Greenwood who plays his best friend and local sheriff. These two actors help shape Donovan’s Echo into a solid film worth watching. It’s also a great first effort from Cliffe and he’s definitely landed on my radar now.

A scene from 'Act of Valor'. Courtesy Alliance Films.

Act of Valor
*** (out of 5 stars)
Wide release

The first true war film for the video game generation, Act of Valor uses real Navy SEALS, real guns, and real explosions to demonstrate what these soldiers go through to protect their country. Needless to say, the acting is horrendous and the dialogue is weak, but when these guys are in battle you feel like you’re right there with them. For fans of games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, Act of Valor is a must-see film that will knock your socks off.

Familiar
**** (out of 5 stars)
Playing at the Projection Booth in Toronto on March 2 along with Battle Royale

Familiar is a wild short independent horror film starring Robert Nolan as John Dodd, a father and husband who hates what his life has become and is slowly going insane. As he slips deeper and deeper into his own thoughts, he discovers something is actually living inside of him and he must get it out. The production value of Familiar is on par with that of a Hollywood genre film and the acting is superb. The film also haunted me for days after watching it which always a sign of an excellent horror film. This is the third short from the guys at Fatal Pictures and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us when they make the leap into features next.

Top image: A scene from Rampart. Courtesy eOne Films. Middle image: A scene from Donovan’s Echo. Courtesy Union Pictures. Bottom image: A scene from Act of Valor. Courtesy Alliance Films.

Brian McKechnie

About Brian McKechnie

Brian McKechnie is the founder and editor of Criticize This! Email him at brian@criticizethis.ca.