STAR TREK BEYOND: Anyone wondering what became of the starship Enterprise after NBC cancelled the original television series gets their answer a half-hour into this movie. Simply put, it’s torn asunder in a rescue mission while the crew, except for the major characters, are all captured. All this stems from the wrath of an ill-defined villain named Krall (Idris Elba) whose vague motivation is a hatred of the Federation and the desire to run it his way. Oh well, that just explains everything, doesn’t it? The screenplay’s deficiencies are overridden by the superior technical production. The art direction and set design are top-notch and any futuristic science fiction flick that deftly incorporates The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy in its already strong soundtrack has got something going for it. Directed by Justin Lin of FAST & FURIOUS 6 fame, this third installment in the rebooted film franchise goes more for escapist summer action without any of the deep philosophical themes that ardent “trekkies” look for in the narratives. The beginning of the movie finds Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) teetering on the edge of an early mid-life crisis which is never really developed. And just how did Scotty (Simon Pegg who co-wrote the screenplay) rescue himself from that cliff he was dangling from? Luckily though, there is the humorous banter between Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) plus the pace of the movie which is consistently brisk. Despite its continuity and minor writing flaws, BEYOND is a fun, enjoyable work that will satisfy both franchise fanboys and people like myself who thought the TV show was cool but never quite understood what all the cult-like fuss was about. CRITIC’S GRADE: B
DOUBLE FEATURE: Although there are plot holes and some “bumpy” transitions between scenes, THE INFILTRATOR is a throwback to modern film noir crime dramas of the ‘80s like THIEF (1981). Bryan Cranston (TRUMBO) is excellent as a federal agent posing as a money launderer in an attempt to bring down Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel. He is ably supported by John Leguizamo (JOHN WICK) as his partner who may or may not be able to be trusted. Directed by Brad Furman (THE LINCOLN LAWYER), the movie has a dark, pervasive tone of foreboding where one wrong word will get your brain blown out.
CRITIC’S GRADE: B-