REVIEW: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”

James Gunn’s highly promoted exit from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is here in the form of the much anticipated “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”. This ragtag crew of MCU misfits burst onto the cinematic scene in 2014 and were a big hit. A 2017 sequel was an even bigger box office smash. Now we get Volume 3 which is the 32nd movie in the MCU. Pretty much all the familiar faces return and a couple of new ones make their debuts. But most of the chatter has been about writer-director James Gunn who is off to run the rebooted DC Studios immediately following this film.

I’ve generally liked the previous two “Guardians” movies but admittedly they’re not among my favorites from the Marvel stock. Both leaned heavily on the comedic chemistry of their ensemble cast and on Gunn’s goofy irreverent style. “Guardians 3” leans even harder on both although not with the greatest results. It plays like an obvious wrap party with Gunn throwing everything that came to mind at the screen without a hint of subtlety or restraint. There’s some fun stuff packed in it. But it’s also loud, overstuffed, frustratingly manipulative, and not nearly as funny as its predecessors.

Up to this point we know what to expect from a James Gunn superhero movie – countless needle drops, zany humor, proudly off-beat action, and (when it lands) some unexpected heart. Unfortunately nearly everything in Volume 3 feels obligatory. So much of the dialogue seems right off the page rather than organic and natural. There’s also a surprising amount of rehashed exposition. And then there’s the incessant yelling. Good guys, bad guys, no-names – everyone yells in this thing, often needlessly and constantly. It would be funny if it wasn’t so annoying.

Image Courtesy of Marvel Studios

But the biggest disappointment is in Gunn’s lazy plays on his audience’s emotions. He spoon-feeds us one emotional cue after another, often accompanying them with huge musical swells and syrupy lines too on-the-nose to feel genuine. Worst of all is his cheap over-reliance on animal abuse. To be clear, I’m not with those who have taken aim at the movie for simply depicting animal cruelty. If it’s key to the story a creator shouldn’t shy away from it. But when it’s used solely to yank our heartstrings over and over again then it becomes a problem. Gunn knows it’s an easy target to hit and he constantly goes back to it.

I will give it this, “Guardians 3” tells a more self-contained story which is nice considering the tepid state of the MCU. The whole gang is back: Peter (Chris Pratt), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), and Cosmo (voiced by Maria Bakalova). Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) is still around (or the variant of her is), having ditched the Guardians and taken up with the Ravagers, a band of space pirates led by Sly Stallone.

While putting the finishing touches on their new headquarters the Guardians are suddenly attacked by a powerful being named Adam Warlock (Will Poulter). They eventually neutralize the threat but not before Rocket is seriously injured. Our heroes rush to his aid but quickly learn they can’t tend to their anthropomorphic friend’s wounds because of a killswitch they discover embedded within him. So Peter and the gang race against the clock to track down an override code before Rocket dies. Action, adventure, and LOTS of yelling ensues.

Woven throughout it all is Rocket’s backstory where we see him and number of other earth animals (why just our planet?) abused, tortured, and even incinerated. In these scenes Rocket befriends three other anthropomorphic captives (voiced by Linda Cardellini, Asim Chaudhry, and Mikaela Hoover). Unfortunately it’s easy to pick up on their purpose which makes these already drawn-out flashbacks hard to sit through.

Image Courtesy of Marvel Studios

One area where the first two films struggled was with their unremarkable villains. Sadly it’s the same in Volume 3. We learn that the woefully uninteresting Warlock has been sent to do the bidding of The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji in a thankless role). He has an intriguing look, some cool yet unexplained powers, and he too yells a lot. But that’s about it. You can sense a compelling character there somewhere. But he’s never explained as anything more than a mad scientist intent on creating a utopian society.

I realize that’s a lot of negativity, but let me say “Guardians 3” has its share of entertainment. Fans of the series will simply love spending time with these characters again. And while their camaraderie lacks the zest we’re used to, the entire cast brings an energy the film needs. Also, it’s clear that a ton of money went into the visuals. Aside from some funky prosthetics and occasions of glaringly fake CGI, the film offers up some pretty delicious eye candy. We also get a couple of memorable action scenes highlighted by one kinetic ‘long take’ fight sequence that is nothing more than Gunn showing off, but it’s a lot of fun.

Despite its hefty 2 hours and 30 minutes, surprisingly “Guardians 3” never quite feels like a slog. And that’s saying something considering the movie’s many frustrations. I’m guessing die-hard fans will likely find this to be a satisfying final(ish) chapter. But James Gunn’s last foray with Marvel lacks the roguish outsider spunk of the previous two Guardians movies (sorry, but throwing in the MCU’s first f-word doesn’t count). Instead it’s an overprocessed send-off that’s so focused on going out with a bang that it loses its joy, charm, and trust in us to actually feel things on our own. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is in theaters now.


REVIEW: “Ghosted” (2023)

Chris Evans and Ana de Armas pair up in “Ghosted”, the new action-adventure romantic comedy for Apple TV+. Directed by Dexter Fletcher and with screenplay credits going to Rhett Reese, Chris McKenna, Paul Wernick, and Erik Sommers, this hokey head-scratcher tries to ride on the star wattage of its handsome two leads and host of fun supporting players. As it turns out they aren’t enough to keep this maddeningly bland misfire from succumbing to its own lack of originality or imagination.

The core problems of “Ghosted” lies in its script. It’s hard to see it as anything more than some manufactured studio concoction that bases every choice on something seen in other movies. In fact, it borrows so heavily from other better (and worse) movies that it’s a struggle to find anything resembling an original idea. Obviously there’s nothing inherently wrong with drawing from other works. But when your movie is this dependent, it can’t help but show on screen. And no amount of dollars (and this movie clearly cost a lot of them) can hide it.

Image Courtesy of Apple TV+

The film gets off on the wrong foot with a cornball opening act that’s so excessively cloying you’ll swear it’s a spoof. Chris Evans plays Cole, a hapless and high-strung farmer with a love for agricultural history and houseplants. He’s recently been dumped and it doesn’t take long before we can understand why. While manning his booth at a local farmers market he encounters Sadie (Ana de Armas), a beautiful art curator. With their cover model good looks and synthetic charm, Cole and Sadie have their own “Before Sunrise” experience crammed into the film’s opening 15 minutes.

The two go their separate ways, but after Sadie doesn’t answer Cole’s MANY texts he begins to fear he’s been ghosted. So in the creepiest and most implausible move imaginable, Cole tracks Sadie to London and hops on a plane to go find her. But rather than surprising the girl he’s crazy about he ends up tranquilized, taken captive, and hauled to Pakistan by a Russian interrogator with a fascination for bugs (played by Tim Blake Nelson in the first of the film’s many cameos).

The interrogator mistakes Cole for someone called “The Taxman” and he’s been hired by an ex-French Intelligence arms dealer named Leveque (a mustache twirling Adrien Brody) to extract some sensitive information from his captive. But wouldn’t you know it, Sadie busts in to save him, popping off headshots like a poor man’s John Wick. It turns out she’s no art curator. She’s a CIA agent with her own ‘particular set of skills’.

Image Courtesy of Apple TV+

After an obviously expensive, utterly ridiculous, yet pretty fun escape through the winding mountain roads of Pakistan, Sadie tells the antsy Cole (and us) about a dangerous biochemical weapon called “Aztec” and about her mission to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Of course they end up teaming up – the dimwit and the super spy – trying to outwit Leveque, dodging his pesky henchmen, and trying to convince us that there’s some actual romantic chemistry between them. That last one proves to be a toughest sell.

As their not-so-interesting adventure unfolds we’re flooded with an overkill of cameos (a couple are admittedly fun but the movie overdoes it), cringey needle drops, tiresome and unfunny running gags, and generic plotting. Even the big action finish feels overwrought yet strangely lackluster. So that leaves it up to Evans and de Armas. He tries hard to make Cole likable comic relief, but he gets annoying over time. She seems much more comfortable in her character’s skin, but Sadie is so flavorless and nonspecific. When together the two handsome stars can’t make much out of this utterly disposable blockbuster. “Ghosted” is now streaming on Apple TV+.


REVIEW: “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant” (2023)

I’m still trying to figure out why Guy Ritchie felt the need to stamp his name in the title of his latest movie, “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant”. Maybe it’s a perk that comes with being the director, co-writer, and co-producer. Maybe it was to distinguish it from the 2006 thriller that shared the same name. Or maybe it’s there to reaffirm it’s his film considering that “The Covenant” feels dramatically different than anything he has done before. Whatever the reason, it’s a bold choice.

Guy Ritchie has always been a hit-or-miss filmmaker, but minus a couple of stumbles I’ve always enjoyed his movies to varying degrees. With “The Covenant” (ahem…I’m sorry… “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant”) he takes his first swing at making a war movie. What we get is not only his most restrained and most focused movie in years. I think it’s Ritchie’s best movie in years period.

Image Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The film is well anchored by its two most crucial performances. Jake Gyllenhaal starts a little dry but really falls into his role as Master Sergeant John Kinley. Set in 2018 Afghanistan, Kinley leads a platoon tasked with hunting down the Taliban’s hidden weapons caches and IED factories. After his interpreter is killed in duty, Kinley hires a local mechanic named Ahmed Abdullah (a sublimely stoic Dar Salim) as a replacement. Their relationship forms the emotional centerpiece of the story.

With his wife expecting their first child, Ahmed takes the job because they need the money. But we also learn he has his own personal history with the Taliban – a history that drives his urge to see them defeated. Despite Kinley’s wariness, over time the headstrong Ahmed proves himself to be a valuable addition. This is never more true than when a raid on a secret IED factory goes bad. Kinley and Ahmed manage to escape on foot and are forced to navigate an ruggedly treacherous no-man’s-land that’s crawling with dogged Taliban soldiers.

Ritchie’s patient buildup to this pivotal point is such a welcomed treat and it’s indicative of his serious-minded approach to his entire story. He temporarily shelves his whiz-bang quip-heavy style and delivers something considerably more grounded. Ritchie still shows his remarkable knack for shooting action. But even it is stripped of any self-aggrandizing flair. Instead Ritchie goes for a more visceral realism that captures the intensity and chaos of actual combat. It’s incredibly effective.

But the key ingredient in the entire movie is that everything is deeply rooted in humanity. Ritchie’s script (which he co-wrote with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies) never takes its eyes off the characters and especially the film’s central relationship. This really comes out when Kinley is seriously wounded during their escape. Ahmed drags him across miles of harsh terrain, dodging enemies and keeping Kinley alive by any means necessary.

Image Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

This is where the movie could have easily turned into something contrived or overly sentimental. But (once again) Ritchie’s restraint and deeper focus on the human element ensures that never happens. And later, after Kinley wakes up in a hospital in the States and learns that Ahmed and his family are running for their lives back in Afghanistan, it opens up a whole new batch of themes for Ritchie to explore. Through lines of heroism, sacrifice, brotherhood, integrity are everywhere.

“Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant” is by no means a political movie, but Ritchie does make some clear statements about government bureaucracy, our country’s treatment of its veterans, and our failure to meet our responsibilities to those who put their lives on the line to help us while in Afghanistan. Those are some prickly topics and Ritchie doesn’t dig deep into them. But he does emphasize the painful consequences. It’s yet another reason to appreciate what Ritchie has done here. And I really hope we’ll see more of this side of him as a filmmaker. “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant” is in theaters now.


REVIEW: “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” (2022)

I’ve always loved the story of Pinocchio. But since becoming a father, it has taken on a much different meaning. These days it resonates with me on a much deeper level than before. Earlier this year, Richard Zemeckis revisited “Pinocchio” through his well-made (and fashionably throttled) live-action remake of Disney’s 1940 animated classic. But leave it to filmmaking visionary Guillermo del Toro to truly energize this beloved story by shaking it up visually, narratively, and in some cases thematically. What we get is something truly special.

“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is brimming with heart and features its creator’s signature on nearly every frame. Del Toro, along with his co-director Mark Gustafson and his co-writer Patrick McHale, retell the 1883 Carlo Collodi fairytale with unshakable passion. Nothing about their film feels rehashed or half-hearted. In fact, it has a fresh energy all its own while still maintaining the emotional weight that made Collodi’s tale so impactful. It’s an incredible achievement from its exquisite stop-motion animation to its thoroughly affecting storytelling.

The story is set in 1930’s Italy where fascism was widespread, even reaching the small hillside hometown of a woodcarver name Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley). In a moving flashback we see the love Geppetto had for his beloved son Carlo. But when a passing warplane mistakenly dropped a bomb on their quiet little village, young Carlo was killed. Geppetto was devastated. As years passed, the world moved on but Geppetto did not. Overwhelmed with sorrow, he sank deeper into despair and the bottle.

Image Courtesy of Netflix

During a particular difficult day and in a fit of mournful anger, a drunken Geppetto haphazardly builds a wooden boy out of pine. Being a product of his creator’s grief, the boy looks nothing like the cute, polished, toy-like creation from the Disney films. He has lanky, out of proportion limbs. His gnarly head is highlighted by a sharp spiked nose. He’s held together by jagged nails which protrude from his body. It’s an abrasive sight but a fitting representation of Geppetto’s frame of mind.

You probably know where the story goes next. While Geppetto sleeps it off, a glowing benevolent Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton) appears. She brings the wooden boy to life and names him Pinocchio (who’s wonderfully voiced by the earnest and lively Gregory Mann). The newly animated lad turns out to be a ball of endless curiosity and rambunctious energy which rattles a stunned, confounded Geppetto.

Pinocchio also catches the attention and sparks the concerns of the once amiable townsfolk who are now quick to criticize and judge their neighbor and his peculiar and very much alive wooden handiwork. Among them is the hypocritical (and slyly funny) local priest (Burn Gorman) and the town magistrate Podestà (Ron Perlman), a Mussolini fascist preparing to ship his son Candlewick (Finn Wolfhard) and other area kids off to military youth camp.

Observing it all is Sebastian J. Cricket, voiced with a near regal sophistication and charm by Ewan McGregor. Sebastian took up residence in a hollow tree trunk where he was preparing to write his memoirs. Unfortunately for him, he chose the very tree the drunken Geppetto chopped down to build his wooden boy. Now Sebastian has been tasked by the Wood Sprite with watching over Pinocchio. If he does so, he will be granted one wish – anything his heart desires. Through McGregor, Sebastian makes for a memorable sidekick, and he has a couple of great running gags that earn laughs every time.

Image Courtesy of Netflix

Adding another dramatic layer is Count Volpe (a slithery Christoph Waltz), an interesting fusion of the classic characters Mangiafuoco, the Fox, and the Cat. Volpe is a down on his luck and shamelessly unscrupulous puppet-master working for a ramshackle traveling carnival. He too gets wind of the wooden boy without strings and sees him as his golden goose. We’re also treated to the voices of John Turturro, Time Blake Nelson, and Cate Blanchett (sorta) along the way.

Regardless of how familiar things may seem, nothing about the movie feels old hat. Del Toro brings something unique to the table at every turn. He adds his own spins to the story, his own twists to the characters, and his own imagination to the world-building. You can’t miss his deep reverence for the source material, yet he never seems shackled to it or handcuffed by expectations.

Guillermo del Toro has called “Pinocchio” his passion project, and after seeing it you can tell. He has poured his heart and soul into this beautiful vibrant experience, sticking firm to his original stop-motion vision despite the rejections of unwilling studios. It’s enchanting and heartfelt but also darkly funny and with a touch of the macabre. It’s voiced to perfection, immaculately scored by Alexandre Desplat, and animated with painstaking detail and incredible artistry. And it all flows from del Toro, who has turned this age-old tale into something undeniably his own. “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” hits Netflix December 9th.


REVIEW: “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (2022)

Crack detective Benoit Blanc returns to solve another murder among the rich and privileged in “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”. This is writer-director Rian Johnson’s standalone sequel to his 2019 smash-hit “Knives Out” and the first of two franchise films he’s making for Netflix after they doled out $469 million for exclusive distribution rights back in March 2021.

Comparisons to the first film are all but guaranteed. Some will be unfair while others are unavoidable. But as whole, “Glass Onion” stands well on its own as a deliciously satisfying romp, driven by Johnson’s signature snarky wit and knack for savory dialogue. It’s crazier and more elaborate which doesn’t always work in its favor. But even when Johnson seems to lose control, he’s always quick to rein things back in. And that’s quite the task considering the film’s many moving parts. It may not match its predecessor stride-for-stride, but there’s a lot to love for fans of crafty whodunnits and sharp-edged comedies.

“Knives Out” won me over for a number of reasons and most trace back to Johnson. The film was fueled by his seamless storytelling, crisp pacing, whip-smart humor, and gaggle of well-defined characters. I really loved the out-of-touch dysfunctional family setting and how Johnson used two dramatically different yet equally terrific outsiders (played by Ana de Armas and LaKeith Stanfield) to expose and ultimately eviscerate their upper-crust entitlement.

Image Courtesy of Netflix

And then there was Benoit Blanc himself, a delightfully wry and erudite Hercule Poirot/Sherlock Holmes hybrid, played with such sly and unshakable confidence by Daniel Craig. I loved his quiet and calculated demeanor. I loved how he played his suspects like a fiddle, maintaining an air of maddening mystery, as he applied pressure and waited for them to crack. How could you not love him?

Embracing the popular impulse to go bigger the second time around, Rian Johnson ups the ante in “Glass Onion”. It’s still well crafted, devilishly insightful, and full of the surprise twists you’d expect. It’s also a little zanier, a lot showier, and definitely more far-fetched. And while Craig brandishes the same Southern charm and is genuinely funny (he handles dry humor like an ace), his Blanc doesn’t quite feel the same this time around. He’s is a bit goofier and more exaggerated. Yet it’s impossible to not love the Poirotian gumshoe’s vibrant presence.

With its ‘ode to Agatha Christie’ formula, “Glass Onion” begins by laying out all the essential pieces needed for a good whodunnit. We have a murder, a colorful array of suspects, each with their own reasonable motive, and of course a supersleuth to cut through the lies and root out the killer. It all unfolds on an private island in Greece owned by tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton), who has planned a weekend long murder-mystery party at his ridiculously posh estate. His four closest friends, his former business partner, and one Benoit Blanc have all received invitations.

After being greeted by a fabulous early cameo (I’ll let you enjoy the discovery), the partygoing guests take a two-hour yacht ride to Miles’ island where they’re met by their an Elon Musk-like host. Among the eclectic bunch is Claire (Kathryn Hahn), the governor of Connecticut who is eyeing a Senate run; Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.), a chief scientist at Miles’ Alpha Industries; Birdie (a scene-stealing Kate Hudson), a celebrity fashionista with a penchant for insensitivity; Birdie’s assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick); Duke (Dave Bautista), a beefcake Twitch streamer, and Duke’s saucy younger girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline). Then there’s Andi (Janelle Monáe), who lost everything after Miles squeezed her out of their company. And on the outside is Blanc, who’s still wondering why he’s even there.

Image Courtesy of Netflix

Needless to say, Miles’ party is interrupted by an actual murder and Benoit finds himself in the middle of yet another prickly case. Meanwhile Johnson has a field day, indulging in several classic tropes but putting his own contemporary spin on them. And as you would expect, much of the fun revolves around the characters who are both written and performed with personality and panache. Through them Johnson steadily pokes at the filthy rich along with those who bury their integrity and milk their wealthy connections for all they can get.

That gets to one area where “Glass Onion” tops its predecessor – in its handling of its politics. In “Knives Out” you could almost sense Johnson’s pride as his class critique would sometimes veer into heavy-handedness. But in “Glass Onion” it’s more ingrained in its characters and more organic within the story. It’s still obvious, but Johnson seems to trust us more. Some things you can’t miss, such as the oblivious self-absorption that pours out of the conversations. Other indictments are more subtle yet equally damning. Take the story’s pandemic-era setting. As most are confined to their homes, the story’s pampered elites are living it up. It’s reminiscent of certain politicians and celebrities who talked a serious game, only to be caught out enjoying their privilege while so many suffered under lockdowns.

While its title is inspired by a Beatles song from their “White Album”, the “Glass Onion” is more directly a reference to the huge glass chamber in the shape of an onion that sits atop Miles’ gazillion-dollar mansion. Yet if you know the history of the song you can probably see another reason Johnson chose it. Either way, “Glass Onion” the movie proves that “Knives Out” was no fluke, and Rian Johnson has a bonafide franchise on his hands. This one has a few question marks (I’m still not sure about its big ending), but it packs plenty of laughs, it keeps you guessing, it has its own flavor, and it’s more than just a rehash of the previous film. If Johnson can keep that up, we have some good stuff to look forward to.

“Glass Onion” will be in theaters for one week starting November 23rd. It will release globally on Netflix December 23rd.


REVIEW: “The Good Nurse” (2022)

Tobias Lindholm is the screenwriter behind two of my very favorite movies of the last ten years, 2012’s “The Hunt” and 2020’s “Another Round”. He steps back behind the camera for the first times since 2015 to direct his English language debut, “The Good Nurse”. Though known most for his writing, Lindholm gives way to Krysty Wilson-Cairns (“1917”, “The Last Night in Soho”) who pens this thoroughly enthralling biographical crime drama that leans on the powerhouse performances from two Oscar winners.

Based on Charles Graeber’s 2013 book of the same name, this smart and surprisingly dense feature at times plays a little like a television medical procedural (and I say that as a compliment). Other times it has distinct old-school thriller vibes. It’s also biographical, telling the unsettling true-crime story of Charlie Cullen, a nurse who was confirmed to have murdered 29 patients (suspected to be as many as 400) in various hospitals over a 15-year span. Despite several suspicious incidents, hospitals chose to protect themselves rather than turning Cullen in. This allowed him to continue to find work up until a fellow nurse named Amy Loughren worked with New Jersey law enforcement to bring Cullen down.

The opening credits set a good tone. In 1996 at a Pennsylvania hospital, a nurse named Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) steps away from a patient who suddenly codes. Doctors rush in to attempt to resuscitate. But the camera stays focused on Charlie, slowly zooming in on his face as he watches the doctors frantically try to save the patient’s life. During this disquieting single shot, Charlie’s visible concern slowly erodes into a cold stare as a doctor takes off his gloves and announces the time of death. Redmayne nails the scene, and from that moment on we no longer see him. We see Charlie Cullen.

Image Courtesy of Netflix

Jumping ahead to 2003, we’re introduced to Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain), an ICU nurse at a New Jersey hospital. As the movie’s title suggests, Amy is a good nurse. She takes her job seriously and genuinely cares for her patients. She also has a serious heart condition, one that calls for a heart transplant. But she has to work at the hospital for one year before qualifying for health insurance. She has four months to go. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s also a single mother struggling financially. She works long hours to provide for her two daughters, but with her medical bills it’s barely enough to scratch by.

Short on staff and hampered by budget cuts, the hospital hires Charlie Cullen to help the overworked night shift. Thin and slight, with sloped shoulders and dangling arms, Charlie has a quiet and unassuming presence. He’s the kind of person who easily disappears into the background. Amy shows him the ropes, and over time the two become close friends. Before long Charlie becomes a fixture in Amy’s life, driving her to work and even helping with her daughters. And after learning of her medical condition, he covers for her at the hospital, determined to see her through until she can get insured. For someone struggling like Amy, Charlie seems like a godsend. But then one of Amy’s patients unexpectedly dies, and the true-crime elements really kick in.

Led by their buttoned-up and aggressively corporate risk manager (a very good Kim Dickens), the hospital administrators immediately go into self-preservation mode, gathering what information they can and keeping it hid behind the veil of an “internal investigation”. It’s a full seven weeks after the death that they’re forced to notify the police. The two New Jersey homicide detectives assigned to investigate (Nnamdi Asomugha and Noah Emmerich) are incensed by the delay especially after learning the patient’s family has already cremated the body. No body means no autopsy which means no case.

Image Courtesy of Netflix

But the hospital’s lack of promptness and obvious stonewalling only raises the suspicions of the detectives who eventually set their eyes on Charlie. But getting through the hospital bureaucracy proves to be a chore. They need someone on the inside – someone close to Charlie who could help them get the evidence the hospital is intent on hiding.

So often movies like this can wander, especially when topping two hours. But “The Good Nurse” remains compelling throughout thanks to some good behind-the-camera choices. Rather than making Charlie, his motives, and his pathology her centerpiece, Wilson-Cairns builds her story around Amy. Together with Chastain, she hooks us emotionally and adds a penetrating human layer. And Lindholm’s crisp and methodical dramatic pacing has us glued to every frame. He keeps this talky restrained thriller from ever feeling dry, and his management of tone is spot-on.

The real-life events behind “The Good Nurse” is inherently chilling, so no additives needed in that department. But it does require a specific kind of performance to pull it off. Redmayne fits the bill plus some. Everything he does lands well, from his unnerving reticence to the small hints of the monster within. Then you have Chastain, our emotional connection who grounds the story with her remarkable restraint. Both are key ingredients to fleshing out this terrifying true story that will leave you second-guessing your next hospital visit. “The Good Nurse” is out now in select theaters and streams October 26th on Netflix.