Eppler: Three good action movie choices in theaters

Eppler: Three good action movie choices in theaters

It's a particularly good moment for action movies in theaters right now, and three of them have very different takes on the genre.

"John Wick: Chapter 2" is some of the most fun I've had at the movies in a while with Keanu Reeves returning as the reluctant killer called back into action. This sequel ups the ante on the first film in just about every way with more impressive action set pieces, and it opens up this secret assassins world to us in ways that are surprising, funny, and smart. Any movie where a tailored three-piece suit functions as a tactical suit of armor is my kinda picture.

At 52, Reeves is delivering the best work of his career and developing his best character and perhaps the most exciting action franchise in a decade or more this side of "The Raid." Its relentless violence is mostly done with a knowing wink to the audience, which can be contrasted with the bloodshed in "Logan," where the carnage is a product of unbridled rage.

In his last outing as Wolverine, the character that made him a household name, Hugh Jackman and his director James Mangold wanted to go for an R-rating to service the level brutality that seems inherent in the character.

But R-rated issue gets pushed a bit hard - hearing Professor X dropping F-bombs just hits the ear wrong. But both Jackman and Patrick Stewart deliver their best performances as Logan and Charles Xavier whose lives of being in hiding are interrupted by a young mutant girl being hunted.

"Logan" is proof that superhero movies are the new Westerns - even with a shout-out to a classic Western movie to put a fine point on it. And although I found the action scenes repetitive, the character work is compelling and a fitting send-off this version of the title character. It's a dark, deadly serious and bleak picture about loss and legacy.

This dark, gritty take on Wolverine is probably all Batman's fault, who has been so moody for the last 20 years that it's easy to forget that character used to be fun. That's why "The LEGO Batman Movie" works so well. It's a throwback to the campy version of the character, and a roast of the more recent brooding version. 

Will Arnett's Batman voice work is perfection, and the filmmakers' obvious love for all things Batman shines through. While this spin-off doesn't have the same satiric sharpness emotional resonance as "The LEGO Movie," it's still a fantastic comedy with rapid-fire jokes for adults and kids.

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