Somehow, the music cue for "Born To Be Wild" never kicks in during Wild Hogs (Buena Vista), but that's the only obvious comic touch that this broad, unfunny neo-City Slickers manages to avoid. Kicking off the year of the gay-panic joke, this unfortunate hit follows four whipped suburban men as they travel cross-country in totally-not-gay black leather motorcycle gear. And when they come across real bikers, the roughnecks turn out to be the actual poseurs. Yeah, right
Fracture (New Line) could hardly be more generic; its plotting and execution isn't that far removed from a run-of-the-mill CBS procedural. But as an acting showcase, it's a blast to watch. As a supremely arrogant man who murders his wife, confesses the crime, and still wriggles off the hook, Anthony Hopkins gives a performance that's like a monument to his own sense of intellectual superiority. He's matched toe-to-toe by Ryan Gosling, whose work as a cocky young prosecutor uses all the Method tics in his arsenal
It's a shame that a smart neo-noir like The Lookout (Universal) didn't find much of an audience in theaters, because it should have been a breakout role for the remarkable Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who brings intensity and range to the part of a brain-damaged night janitor roped into a robbery scheme. Writer-director Scott Frank didn't put much originality into the script—it's basically a more streamlined version of Memento—but the film works beautifully as a character piece about a young man trying to assert himself through crippling guilt and disability
Making his Hollywood debut, Kontroll director Nimród Antal brings impressive economy and speed to Vacancy (Sony), a tight horror film about a bickering married couple (Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale) who pull over at the wrong roadside motel. The early scenes with scene-stealer Frank Whaley as the creepy motel manager promise some sharp black comedy to go along with the scares, but the film settles into a more meat-and-potatoes thriller. Still, it's only 80 minutes long, which is a big plus
David Lynch had complete creative control over Inland Empire (Absurda/Rhino), an epic descent into the dark side of Hollywood that feels as if it was ported from his dreams. It's alternately fascinating and intolerable, but even non-devotees will be impressed with Laura Dern's work in the lead role.