'Quarantine,' 'RocknRolla' and 'Body of Lies'

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Slate.com's Mark Jordan Legan guides us through the latest releases: the mystery thriller Quarantine, the Guy Ritchie crime drama RocknRolla' and the Ridley Scott film Body of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.


A big budget action film with top stars, a creepy horror film, and a British crime caper all open at the local Cineplex this weekend. For what the nation's critics think of these new releases, here's Mark Jordan Legan with Slate's Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN: Guy Ritchie, the writer-director of "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," returns to his cinematic gangster roots with the crime comedy "RocknRolla." Gerard Butler and Tom Wilkinson head the cast of thugs, rock stars, drug dealers and Russian mobsters who are all trying to make a killing in the London real estate market.

(Soundbite of movie "RocknRolla")

Unidentified Man: Let me tell you how this works. You're going in the drink and I'm going to have a cup of tea. Beneath your feet is the famous river Thames. I just hope for your sakes you can hold your breath for as long as it takes my kettle to boil. After that, I'm going to ask you a question, just one question. You're going to give me a name, and if it's the right name, I'm going to send you home, warm and dry in a fresh set of clothes. If it's the wrong name, you'll be fed to the crayfish.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LEGAN: Overall, the critics enjoyed "RocknRolla." Variety grins, "cleverly constructed and darkly hilarious." USA Today calls it "well-acted, amusing and twisted," but the New York Daily News yawns, "convoluted and half-hearted."

Ridley Scott, who has directed everything from "Alien," to "Thelma and Louise," to "American Gangster," now jumps into the political thriller arena with "Body of Lies." Leonardo DiCaprio plays a top CIA agent in the Middle East who isn't sure if he can trust his co-worker played by Russell Crowe.

(Soundbite of movie "Body of Lies")

Mr. LEONARDO DICAPRIO (As Roger Ferris): Listen, Ed. We're going north now. Do you hear me? We're going north to the Bellad(ph) safe house.

Mr. RUSSELL CROWE (As Ed Hoffman): No, no, no, buddy, no, you're not. You're blown. It's Chapman(ph).

Mr. DICAPRIO (As Roger Ferris): If I'm blown, Ed, that means you should have sent a team there the minute Nizar got shot. But you didn't send a team, did you? Did you?

LEGAN: "Body of Lies" is getting strong reviews. "Purely entertaining and the sharpest of all the post-9/11 thrillers," shouts the Village Voice. The New Yorker finds it "smart and tightly drawn," and the Washington Post adds, "a nifty thriller."

Next up in wide release is the horror film "Quarantine." A TV reporter and her cameraman follow a routine 911 call to an apartment building and find themselves quarantined after police discovers some of the residents are infected with a strange, terrifying virus.

(Soundbite of movie "Quarantine")

Ms. JENNIFER CARPENTER (As Angela Vidal): We're standing outside an elderly woman's apartment. Neighbors heard screams and called 911. The fire department is about to begin the rescue process. Police say that she lives alone. She's not very so…

(Soundbite of a gun firing)

Unidentified Man #2: It's OK.

Unidentified Man #3: It's all right.

Unidentified Man #2: Everything is going to be fine.

Unidentified Man #4: Ma'am. Hello, ma'am.

Ms. CARPENTER: What's wrong with her?

LEGAN: Kind of sounds like "The Blair Witch Project," only set in rent-controlled apartments. Unfortunately, the film itself must be in quarantine, because the studio did not screen it in advance for the critics. Usually, a sign the studio fears negative reviews. Yet the horror genre normally doesn't depend on reviews for business, just a good strong ad campaign and a scary trailer. Oddly, "Quarantine" is a remake of a successful Spanish horror flick which came out in 2007. Yes, the American remake is already in the theaters less than a year later. In fact, I have to go now and negotiate the remake of "Summary Judgment," the movie which has not yet been written or sold but we hear Clooney's people are very excited.

CHADWICK: Mark Jordan Legan is a mover and shaker living in Los Angeles.

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