See This/Skip That: From The Other Woman to Locke

04/25/2014 at 03:45 PM EDT

The Other Woman, Locke, Blue Ruin: Movie Reviews from PEOPLE
Leslie Mann (left), Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton in The Other Woman
Barry Wetcher/Twentieth Century FOX Film Corporation
One man versus three women: That's the box-office showdown this weekend, which pits Tom Hardy's man-in-a-car solo showcase Locke against the jilted-gals comedy The Other Woman, starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton and Leslie Mann.

So what's worth catching – and what are you better off skipping? PEOPLE's movie critic weighs in on the week's notable releases.

See This

Locke
Locke may be a stunt, but it's a damned good one. The engrossing drama stars Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke, a successful construction foreman who steps into a car to head to London at the beginning of the movie and never steps out, his life dismantling itself in a series of increasingly fraught phone calls all the while. That, by the way, is the whole movie: one guy, one car, one hell of a performance.

Besides a compelling script and restrained directorial hand, it takes a marvelously talented actor to pull off that kind of high-wire act, and Hardy once again proves why he's one of the best of his generation. He imbues Ivan with a kind of preternatural calm, as the married father calls his family to tell them he's not coming home right away, and informs his office that he'll be absent in the morning as they begin a massive construction project. In between calls, Ivan rails at his dead father, only then betraying a roiling spirit beneath that meticulous self-control.



Somehow, the effect is mesmerizing. For every heartbreaking moment with his wife, Katrina (Ruth Wilson), Ivan has a hilarious one with his panicky, drunk assistant, Donal (Andrew Scott, better known as Sherlock's Moriarty), who has to fill in for his boss on the worst possible day. The supporting performances punctuate the film with dramatic tension, but it's always Hardy who holds the center. For all of Ivan's errors and misjudgments, his disquieting affect, and his dwindling hold on what used to be his life, he remains empathetic and relatable. You get this guy – what he did, why he did it and ultimately, why he mucked it up so thoroughly. What you won't get is why the movie has to end after only 85 minutes, just as we were getting started.

Skip That

The Other Woman
Somewhere in the privileged, drunk, bad man's land between The First Wives Club and Sex and the City lies The Other Woman, but it's not a place you want to be. Cameron Diaz stars as Carly Whitten, a tough lawyer with the kind of Manhattan apartment you and I only see in movies and magazines. She's also dating the gorgeous, successful Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones' Jaime Lannister). Notice I didn't say the gorgeous, successful, single Mark. That's because Mark's wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), is back in Connecticut none the wiser.

Or at least she is until Carly finds her way to Kate's doorstep, and the two realize that Mark is a louse. (It's actually remarkable that Kate could put two and two together like that, since the movie insists that she's so dumb, she'd get turned around running in place.) The women decide to team up, eventually looping in a third girlfriend, Amber (Kate Upton).

This is where hilarity usually ensues, and while there are a few solidly funny moments, The Other Woman is largely an extended groan. The movie touts its lady-power theme, celebrating Kate's mission to take back her dignity, then undercuts it with pratfalls and gross toilet humor. (Diaz largely emerges unscathed, with a likable, more interesting character). Coster-Waldau is appropriately oily as Mark, but even he gets dragged into jokes that are beneath him. No, I'm afraid the only reason to see The Other Woman is to convince Hollywood that female-driven comedies are worth the investment. Of course, seeing this particular movie also implies that studios needn't bother making good ones.

But Check This Out

Blue Ruin
Dwight (Macon Blair) is a drifter who doesn't mean any harm. When someone who once grievously wronged him is released from prison, though, Dwight sets out on bloody revenge. With relentless drive, the brutally (but never gratuitously) violent Blue Ruin unleashes Dwight on a whole clan who'd love an excuse to put him in the ground. That's not to say that Dwight is some sort of killing machine – the film is too grittily authentic for that. The tension is in watching Dwight muster the gumption to do what he feels he must, whether or not he's actually capable of carrying it out. Blue Ruin is as tiny a movie as they come, but it packs a stinging punch.

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