The lean pickings of January mean more screenings: studios want to promote their films as much as possible. This is why I've already seen the four new movies due for release tomorrow.
Thr3e, as you may expect, is not even half as good as Se7en. Sadly, it's not even the film version of the inane thriller script that Donald Kaufman writes in Adaptation. But it's not a bad idea to consider those ideas while watching this film, based on a novel of Christian fiction and released by Fox Faith.
Marc Blucas (a former Wake Forest hoops player who once earned the Cameron Crazies cheer "What's a Blucas?") plays Kevin Parson, a seminary student who's hit a wall writing his thesis, which has something to do with the nature of good and evil. While driving away from class, he receives a mysterious phone call that demands he confess his sins or his car will blow up in 3 minutes. He turns into an alley and runs out of the car, which indeed explodes.
His story interests Jennifer Peters (Justine Waddell), a police profiler. She lost her brother 3 months ago under similar circumstances, and obsesses over Kevin and his sudden stalker. Turns out Kevin does have things to confess, including a difficult upbringing by an insane aunt (Priscilla Barnes, a campy hoot).
Over the next 3 days, we slowly learn what the heck is up: it's simultaneously interesting and laughably bad. The production value is okay, I guess, but there's something a little unpolished about the whole thing. Some of the accents (Waddell's in particular) seem to waver midsentence, as if they're slowly turning Canadian.
By now you've noticed the number fixation, but I must add that Priscilla Barnes is best known for her role in... Three's Company. Cue creepy theme music; we've been waiting for you!
Code Name: The Cleaner makes for a bit of harmless fun. I went into it expecting a story about some janitor dude who gets tangled up in the spy world, but the plot is slightly more sophisticated. Jake Rodgers (Cedric the Entertainer) wakes up in a hotel room with a dead FBI agent, a briefcase of cash, and no memory. He struggles with learning his identity, suspecting the woman claiming she's his wife (Nicollette Sheridan) is lying to him. He enlists the help of a friendly waitress (Lucy Liu) who's also not all she seems.
He creates a flow chart of what he knows thus far (like Memento) and soon discovers that he has a spy-like ability to notice details (like The Bourne Identity). The comparisons to better movies stop there, but it was interesting to follow the mystery and learn the real reason our hero has such lightning quick reflexes.
Special mention goes to DeRay Davis, who steals the three scenes he's in as Ronnie, a fellow janitor and wannabe rapper. I strongly suspect that many of his lines were unscripted, and he brings a fun, manic energy to the movie. Expect to see a lot more of him; Brett Ratner, a producer here, once converted a similarly energetic Chris Tucker into a box office megastar.