Dauberman’s control over the camera and mastery of suspense is impressive, especially for a first-time director. But the film is strung too tightly, rarely breaking bad, denying the cathartic chaos one craves in this kind of film.
Like the toys of a child now-grown, or an antique lamp gathering dust on a shelf, “Toy Story 4” isn’t needed. But it is, for many of us, very much wanted: one last adventure, one last chance to say goodbye.
Although the film is a beautiful tribute to Pavarotti, the less-inspired approach Howard took to the film plus a slower editing beat (the running time is 114 minutes) compared to his examination of the Beatles makes the project seem like a small step backward.
You feel for the actors, who you know are better than this stuff, and you wonder if director F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton”) just threw up his hands. And you wonder if, somewhere, Smith and Jones are chuckling. At least somebody was.
What we have here is a standard-issue comedy-tinged crime thriller indifferently directed by Tim Story (the “Think Like a Man” and “Ride Along” movies). Its nothing-special plot, the product of writers Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow, features ill-defined villains and briefly touches on Islamophobia and military veteran PTSD and drug abuse — and never follows up on any of those issues.
Phoenix goes off the rails in the second half when Kinberg piles fight scene atop CG-enhanced fight scene, backed by Hans Zimmer’s oppressive pounding score, until the picture devolves into a chaotic mess.
There’s exactly one good jump-scare, which probably would have caused me to drop my popcorn if I hadn’t finished it already; otherwise it’s fairly uninspired. But something about Quaid’s delivery had me giggling throughout — or, at least, until things got rather too dark in the final minutes.