The action-thriller genre is responsible for so many dumb movies that when two smart ones show up in as many weeks, people ought to stop and take notice. Last week brought Tony Scott’s Unstoppable, with Denzel Washington and Chris Pine as rail workers trying to catch a runaway train; in this week’s issue we have a Critic’s Choice for Paul Haggis’s The Next Three Days, about a Pittsburgh college professor (Russell Crowe) who ventures outside the law to spring his wife (Elizabeth Banks) from prison.
The other Critic’s Choice this week is for Claire Denis’ French drama White Material, playing all week at the Music Box. Isabelle Huppert stars as the French owner of a coffee plantation in a fictional, postcolonial African nation; order is breaking down as the country succumbs to civil war, but Huppert refuses to leave until her crop can be harvested. (Bad decision.)