Convoluted, violent tale

Tommy Lee Jones and Aaron Elkhart in convoluted, violent tale, “Wander.”

WANDER

(Amazon Prime)

Is he crazy or is it just paranoia?

Former homicide detective Arthur Bretnik (Aaron Eckhart) suffers from blackouts and panic attacks since the car wreck that killed his daughter, and left his wife Tanya (Nicole Steinwedell) in a catatonic state.

After leaving the force, he now works as a private detective, but much of his time is spent in the desert with conspiracy podcaster Jimmy Cleats (Tommy Lee Jones).

Just like Cleats, Bretnik also spouts off about the government’s latest cuckoo conspiracies.

When Cleats talks Bretnik into investigating the murder and coverup of a Hispanic woman’s daughter, the former cop sets out for the creepy, almost deserted town of Wander, Texas.

While he constantly checks to see if someone is following him, Bretnik also discovers that this case could be related to that wreck that killed his daughter. On his own, he unearths  evidence of a horribly cruel plan to destroy immigrants.

This convoluted thriller, which continues to veer off into strange places with flashbacks and Bretnik’s recurring blackouts, takes concentration as the private eye makes startling and stomach-turning discoveries.

Directed by April Mullen, the megaviolent tale includes cast members Heather Graham as Bretnik’s friend and attorney, Katheryn Winnick as the mysterious blonde in a hat and Raymond Cruz as the Sheriff of Wander. Eckhart succeeds mightily in his portrayal of a man who manages to do momentous investigating while suffering a mental breakdown.

Rated R

3 Stars

FOUR GOOD DAYS

(in theaters)

A stunningly realistic story about addiction, “Four Good Days” follows the long-suffering mom, Deb (Glenn Close) and Molly (actress Mila Kunis is unrecognizable as the skinny junkie with terrible skin and no teeth), her once beautiful daughter and the mother of her grandchildren, who has been an addict for ten years.

Co-writer and director Rodrigo Garcia based the movie on a true story in the Washington Post.

For the 14th (!) time, Deb takes her daughter to the detox clinic where they learn about a new drug called Naltrexone, which will allow Molly to remain clean for a month.

The catch is that Molly has to spend three days in detox and then four days without drugs before she can take the shot. Through the course of that terribly long 4-day period, Deb tries to remain upbeat, but she knows that addicts hardly  ever kick drugs.

Both Close and Kunis give brilliant performances in this tough and authentic feature.

Rated R

 3 Stars

LIMBO

(in theaters)

Single men hoping for answers to their asylum applications to England wait out the long and boring days on a Scottish island in the wry and sometime tragic “Limbo.”

After escaping from war-torn Syria, refugee and musician Omar (Amir El-Masry), who always carries his grandfather’s oud (a musical instrument related to a guitar) with him, finds himself in a strange place along with many other Middle Eastern refugees.

His housemate, Farhad (“Vikash Bhai), with his devotion to Freddie Mercury and to his stolen live chicken, adds comedy. Other funny bits come from the ridiculous Cultural Awareness classes conducted by Helga and Boris.

Filmmaker Ben Sharrock’s excellent film presents Omar’s compelling story as he talks to his family back home in Istanbul while suffering an intolerably long wait.

Rated R

3 and 1/2 Stars

Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews movies, arts and  entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.

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