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Movie review: The Woman King

Viola Davis reigns supreme.
Credit: Sony Pictures



Has Oscar-winner Viola Davis ever done anything less than perfect? 

In "The Woman King," she leads a group of 19th century female African warriors as she trains the next generation of recruits. Davis, herself, trained for five hours a day to get in fighting shape and stay there, and it's impressive. But there are far more emotional elements to the story, too, including a big secret I won't reveal. 

The movie is directed with intensity by Gina Prince-Bythewood but spares a lot of gore. "Star Wars" star John Boyega plays the king that Davis serves. "No Time To Die's" Lashana Lynch plays a fellow warrior and trainer. 

Davis calls the film her 'Magnum Opus.' She says it allows her to go back to the bullied little girl of her past and tells her that power is OK. Speaking of 'girl..' aside from Davis, the standout here is her star trainee played by Thuso Mbedu. What a revelation! 

This is a strong film. It's too early to think awards, but Davis could be in the conversation again.

(Sony Pictures. Rated PG-13. Running Time 2 hrs.15 mins. In Theaters Only)


It's been a long time since the 80s days of Chevy Chase as 'Fletch.' Now Jon Hamm brings back that wisecracking former investigative reporter in "Confess, Fletch." The character comes from the same series of books by Gregory McDonald, and it's a murder mystery. Fletch is helping his heiress girlfriend track down priceless paintings stolen from her kidnapped father. He gets a little surprise at his Airbnb ... a dead woman! 

Of course, he becomes the lead suspect. Detectives want him to confess, instead, he works to clear his name.

Hamm teams up with writer/director Greg Mottola, best known for "Superbad." It's a tricky balance to not go overboard with Fletch's goofy charm. Expect plenty of laughs but not the 80's slapstick. It's a lot of fun, and there are more books. I hope they make another!

(Paramount. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 39 mins. In Theaters and Streaming on Amazon Prime)


Oscar winner Sam Rockwall is the detective on the job in "See How They Run." It's London in the 50s. There's a murder backstage of the premiere production of Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap." And Rockwall's always drunk 'Inspector Stoppard' gets the assignment to solve the crime. His over-eager sidekick, 'Constable Stalker' is played by Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan.

This is a fairly basic whodunnit. They're not reinventing the wheel with this one. Some snappy split screens move things along., but the movie belongs to Ronan. The wide-eyed rookie takes notes on everything. Guess what, diligence can pay off!

(Searchlight Pictures. Rated PG-13. Running Time 1 hr. 38 mins. In Theaters Only)


"The Silent Twins" is based on a true story, and it's a little hard to connect with. The twin girls (Tamara Lawrance', "Black Panther's" Letitia Wright) speak to each other behind closed doors in their bedroom, which is where they like to stay. When they do speak, it's with an unusual accent. When they're with others, they don't communicate at all. They have a tough time in school. In their high school years, they launch into petty crime when they try to hang out with brothers who move in faster circles. Eventually, they're institutionalized.

Both the girls are aspiring writers, one better than the other. Some of their stories are played out on screen by odd puppetry.  The whole movie is a little odd. If you know that going in, you won't be put off.

(Focus Features. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 53 mins. In Theaters Only)

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