"Unleashed," a howlingly ludicrous new movie directed by Louis Leterrier ("The Transporter") and produced by Luc Besson, stars Jet Li as a human pit bull. Danny is kept on a leash by his loan shark "uncle" Bart (Bob Hoskins), who has trained him since childhood to sic delinquent debtors when his metal collar comes off. On a routine intimidation visit to a Glasgow antiques dealership, Danny meets a blind piano tuner named Sam (Morgan Freeman), who immediately likes him. Wounded in an ambush in which Uncle Bart is apparently killed, Danny wanders back to Sam, who takes him back to the home he shares with his teenage stepdaughter, the blood-curdlingly chirpy Victoria (Kerry Condon). Victoria instantly adopts Danny as her very own puppy.
"Unleashed" includes a few scenes of impressively choreographed mayhem, but they're all but buried in Freeman and Condon's mystical grandpa and weirdo teeny bopper routines. In the end, music tames the beast and helps uncover repressed memories of Danny's mother in time for Bart's return. This one's strictly for the dogs.
"Unleashed," rated R for strong violent content, language and some sexuality/nudity. Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes. In general release.
'Hole' fails to reach right toneWriter-director Richard Ledes takes aim at 1950s-era repression and paranoia in the period genre puree "A Hole in One." Michelle Williams stars as Anna, a young woman trapped in a small Upper Midwest town who considers the possibility that a trendy transorbital lobotomy performed by Dr. Harold Ashton (Bill Raymond) — based on the real-life popularizer of the procedure, Dr. Walter Freeman — will cure her blues. A well-aimed ice pick under the eyelids into the brain's frontal lobes is promised, in Life magazine no less, as the cure for all that ails, but here it is no match for love. The film is beautifully shot by cinematographer Stephen Kazmierski and accompanied by Stephen Trask's offbeat, moody score, but the anesthetized, deadpan performances — except for Meat Loaf as Anna's gangster boyfriend, who's so over-the-top it appears he stumbled in from another movie — and dull storytelling result in an unsuccessful mix of screwball comedy, melodrama and noir. "A Hole in One" aspires to the Sirkian social satire of Todd Haynes' "Far From Heaven," but the result is closer to a Coen brothers film with all the funny parts removed.
"A Hole in One," unrated. Language, sexual situations and violence. Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes. Fairfax Cinemas, 7907 Beverly Blvd., (323) 655-4010; and One Colorado Cinemas, 42 Miller Alley, Pasadena, (626) 744-1224.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times