No living actor plays the curmudgeon better than Bill Murray. He’s become the Walter Matthau of his time. All through this, I could see Murray channeling that “Bad News Bears” grumpiness of Matthau as he plays Vincent Van Nuys in this first feature from writer/director Theodore Melfi, who should get down on his knees and thank Murray for saying “yes” to the role.
This is not in the same league as “Saving Private Ryan,” but like that World War II film, this one also deals in graphic, visceral realism that gives it more weight than the old “B” war pictures that obviously inspired it. Call it “five guys and a tank” for the quasi family of men trapped inside the metal bucket called a Sherman tank in the final days leading to the end of the war.
About the only thing this movie and the old television series have in common is the title. Replacing British actor Edward Woodward, who starred in the show that ran for four seasons beginning in 1985, is Denzel Washington, who teams up again with “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua for an updated take on the enigmatic character of Robert McCall.
Based on the Dennis Lehane short story, “Rescue Animal,” this might as well be a companion piece to other Lehane adaptations such as “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone.” Lehane’s world isn’t pretty, and neither are his characters.
Another disappointing weekend at the movies only added modest gains to a summer season that has been one of the most dismal in many years. “The November Man,” a James Bond wannabe with Pierce Brosnan, was a yawner, as was the supernatural thriller “As Above, So Below” set in the catacombs of Paris.
Coming off one of the worst summer movie seasons in recent history, there is a lot riding on what’s in the pipeline for this fall. With a few exceptions like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” nothing seemed to please audiences enough to send any movie over the elusive $300 million mark — a first in over 10 years.
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