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Short-changed by life-swap tale low on laughs
The Change-Up (Cert 15, 107 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd). Starring Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Sydney Rouviere, Alan Arkin, Craig Bierko ** Overworked lawyer Dave Lockwood (Bateman) is on the verge of securing the vice-presidency at his firm. Dedication to his job has dulled his marriage to wife Jamie (Mann) and taken him away from his three children, including daughter Cara (Rouviere). In stark contrast, Dave’s best friend Mitch Planko (Reynolds) is a fast-talking, jobbing actor, who ricochets from one meaningless sexual encounter to the next. One drunken night, the two men bemoan their lots and loudly proclaim, “I wish I had your life”, as they urinate in a fountain. The next morning, Dave and Mitch are trapped in each other’s bodies and have no obvious way to revert to normality. The Change-Up was penned by the duo responsible for The Hangover and that film’s brand of filthy-minded lunacy spatters across every frame. Bateman and Reynolds have far more fun mimicking each other’s mannerisms than we have watching them.
The Debt (Cert 15, 113 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd) Starring Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Wilkinson, Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Jesper Christensen *** In Tel Aviv in 1997, Sarah Singer (Aboulafia) proudly unveils a book about her brave mother Rachel (Mirren), father Stephan (Wilkinson) and fellow Mossad operative David Peretz (Hinds), who were dispatched to East Berlin in 1966 to hunt down Nazi war criminal Dieter Vogel (Christensen). Confronted with this written account of the 1966 mission to capture Vogel, who conducted horrific experiments on Jews, Rachel recalls the past with shame and despair. Admittedly there are a few plot holes, but all-in-all it’s a gripping drama.
Red State (Cert 18, 84 mins, Entertainment One UK). Starring Michael Parks, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun, Kyle Gallner, Kerry Bishe, Stephen Root ** High school students Jarod (Gallner), Travis (Angarano) and Billy-Ray (Braun) discover a website where women advertise for sex. They respond to the advert of an older woman in nearby Cooper’s Dell and drive to her trailer, where Sara (Leo) invites the trio to share a couple of beers before they indulge in the sins of the flesh. Jarod, Travis and Billy-Ray are unaware that their beers have been spiked and when they regain consciousness, they are bound and gagged, held at the mercy of Christian extremist preacher Abin Cooper (Parks) and his demented flock. As Abin prepares to sacrifice Jarod, Travis and Billy-Ray, Federal Agent Joseph Keenan (Goodman) marshals an assault team to breach the church’s defences. Red State is a brutal and uncompromising thriller, in which graphic violence punctuates the narrative, fully justifying the 18 certificate, and action sequences of the SWAT team storming the compound are well-orchestrated.