Picks of the week
‘The November Man’
(R, 108 minutes, Fox): Roger Donaldson makes efficient hack work of a script adapted from a book by Bill Granger, stringing together every cliche, trope and cherished chestnut from the established canon of Thrillers 101. Pierce Brosnan, playing an ex-CIA agent named Devereaux, attempts a sexy scowl that makes him look either tetchy or mildly peeved, depending on how many explosions he’s dodging. Devereaux is pulled back into service by his old mates and winds up in the middle of a shadowy conspiracy involving a sleazy Russian politician and some dubious doings in Chechnya. His ally in this shifting landscape of loyalties and misplaced trust is a statuesque social worker named Alice (the eye-popping Olga Kurylenko). Contains strong violence, including sexual assault, profanity, sexuality and nudity and brief drug use.
‘The Expendables 3’
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(PG-13, 126 minutes, Lionsgate): The “Expendables” franchise isn’t about spotlighting the power of youthful and virile action stars; it’s about letting older guys prove they’ve still got it. So the amateurs get kidnapped and it’s up to Sylvester Stallone and the other oldies but goodies to rescue them. But the movie’s best moments come from newcomer Antonio Banderas, who plays an acrobatic and exhaustingly gregarious out-of-work mercenary desperate for another chance to do what he loves most, which is killing people. Contains violence, including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and strong language. Blu-ray extras: An unrated extended edition, a making-of documentary, gag reel, extended scene and “New Blood: Stacked and Jacked” and “The Total Action Package” featurettes.
(PG-13, 102 minutes, Sony): Daniel Radcliffe, still boyish at 25, conjures a bit of magic in the romantic comedy “What If.” He stars opposite Zoe Kazan, who’s 30 but with her big, bright eyes and irrepressible sense of wonder, always looks a little like a girl playing dress-up. Radcliffe and Kazan generate nice chemistry as two slightly awkward introverts, Wallace and Chantry, who bond over Magnetic Poetry while trying to avoid small talk with strangers at a party. To its credit, “What If” isn’t entirely formulaic. For one thing, the requisite obstacle between Wallace and Chantry’s happily ever after is her perfectly pleasant (if protective) live-in boyfriend, Ben (Rafe Spall). Contains sexual content, strong language, partial nudity and language. Extras: Two vignettes in which the cast and filmmakers explore the movie’s themes and talk about their experience shooting a modern love story; and cast and crew interviews. On Blu-ray: Three deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and “A Modern Love Story” vignette.
A Madea Christmas’
(PG-13, 105 minutes, Lionsgate): This insensitive, unfunny cringer from the entrepreneurial writer-director features a cast of acting misfits including Larry the Cable Guy, Kathy Najimy (“Sister Act”) and the cross-dressing Perry himself. Here, his Madea grandma character ventures from Georgia to Alabama to surprise her friend Eileen’s daughter during the holiday season. Contains sexual references, language and crude humor. Extras: A sneak peek at “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Tough Love,” his first animated feature, and a “Jolly Follies” behind-the-scenes featurette.