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Written by: Cooper Aspegren

“A Good Day to Die Hard”

John Moore’s “A Good Day to Die Hard” ranks as the worst of the now five-film franchise; a completely unnecessary addition to the previous installments. Bruce Willis returns as New York police officer John McClane, who finds himself in Russia this time around in an effort to help his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney), a CIA operative, avoid prison. The film is devoid of any sense of fun and originality that earned its earliest predecessor its cultural cachet.  Furthermore, its action scenes come off as completely uninspired, confusing and ineptly directed.  In the end, “A Good Day to Die Hard” registers as a complete mess of a film.

“Identity Thief”

By building itself upon a completely implausible premise, Seth Gordon’s “Identity Thief” comes off as a contrived and lame farce that completely misuses the talents of its highly likable stars. The plot focuses on an androgynously-named financial executive (Jason Bateman) who must find the woman (Melissa McCarthy) who stole his identity and bring her to some form of justice. As it converts itself into a worn out road trip saga, the film devolves into a carbon-copy of the lackluster Todd Phillips comedy “Due Date.” Even up to that point, however, it should be noted that there proves little reason for the “Identity Thief’s” existence.

“Side Effects”

Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects” blends the soon-to-be-retired auteur’s slick style with the eerie suspense of a Hitchcockian thriller.  Just as unsettling as some of Hitch’s finest features, the plot follows a psychiatrist, Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), who becomes too heavily involved in treating the depressed Emily (Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” ) whose husband (Channing Tatum) just finished a prison sentence.  When prescribing a widely advertised drug to Emily leads to disastrous consequences, Banks finds himself in the center of a scandal of almost unprecedented proportions.  As cerebral as any cinematic effort released in this new decade, “Side Effects” stands as quite possibly the most perfect effort of Soderbergh’s almost three-decade career.

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