COUCH THEATER —  DVD PREVIEWS

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Leem Lubany, Adam Bakri in “Omar”

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PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (PG-13) —  When Russian corporate overlords threaten the world’s economy, it’s up to one untrained CIA desk worker to stop them (for some reason, maybe the rest of the CIA is busy.) Our hero is Jack Ryan (Chris Pines), protagonist of many a spy novel by Tom Clancy. Ryan starts working for the less-dangerous wing of the CIA, but somehow gets shifted into fieldwork, starting his clandestine adventure dodging assassins in Moscow.

While the plot has more holes than the back wall of a shooting range, “Shadow Recruit” keeps things moving so fast that you can’t admire its true flimsiness. Director Kenneth Branagh —  also starring as the villain —  doesn’t try to reinvent the global espionage thriller, but he doesn’t take many risks with it, either.

“Non-Stop” (PG-13) —  On a crowded flight from New York to London, Air Marshall Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) receives text messages threatening that a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes until ransom money is wired into an offshore account. Don’t fret too much about the logistics of telecommunication on a plane, or how people can disappear in such close quarters —  it all just adds to the tension.

Much of the vehicle is pieced together from pieces of other airplane disaster flicks. The real engine pushing this ride is Neeson’s tight-fisted commitment to his troubled action-hero role. This isn’t just “Taken” set in the sky, however. “Non-Stop” is worth standing in line for.

“Devil’s Knot” (R) —  In 1993, three 8-year-old boys were found brutally murdered in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas. Three teenage boys from the poor side of town (dubbed the “West Memphis Three”) were tried and quickly convicted for the murders. Public opinion painted them as monsters and Satanists because the teens were outcasts who listened to heavy-metal music. This drama starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon takes a steady look at the facts in the case. However, the understated performances do not bring the subject to light as well as any of the documentaries.

“Omar” —  A young baker named Omar (Adam Bakri) lives in an impoverished Palistinian village, where he’s in contact with people plotting to kill Israeli soldiers. Whenever Omar climbs the security wall to the other side, he’s doing it to visit his pals and his gorgeous girlfriend (Leem Lubany). One night, however, Omar is taken into custody, tortured and turned out as a double-agent against the militants from his village. The movie follows Omar’s ambiguous arc —  is he really going to turn on the people he once supported, or is he realizing something else about the conflict? The film gives no answers, but offers an up-close human look at a bitter conflict that stretches across generations.

TV RELEASES
“Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”
“Rizzoli & Isles: Season 4”
“Ray Donovan: Season 1”
“Resurrection: Season 1”
“The Chisholms —  The Complete Series”
“Workaholics: Season 4”

© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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