Conviction

Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver | R |

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DRAMA

The best stories-and the most wrenching-are the ones that are true. In 1983 Kenny Waters (Rockwell), known to the suburban Boston police since childhood, was convicted of killing a local housewife. His sister Betty Anne (Swank), never doubting Kenny's innocence, began a nearly two-decade quest to free her brother. Swank is solidly compelling as a struggling mom and high school dropout who finishes college and becomes an attorney to save Kenny, with the help of her equally determined best friend (Driver) and the famed Barry Scheck (Peter Gallagher) of the Innocence Project. Also doing fine work: Juliette Lewis, who steals her scenes as Kenny's bitter, live-wire of an ex. But Conviction is really Rockwell's film. Morphing from youthfully combustible to shrivelled and suicidal, he ably captures Kenny's quiet courage in the midst of an unthinkable nightmare. In a fierce Best Actor Oscar race that's only going to get tighter as the year closes, Rockwell makes a fair claim that he deserves some respect.

Red

Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren | PG-13 |

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ACTION

Like The Expendables, Red puts aging actors to work as action stars. Unlike The Expendables, Red is actually watchable. Bruce Willis leads the crew as Frank Moses, a "retired: extremely dangerous" operative, hunted over something in his heavily redacted CIA file. Since she may have info, the feds are also after the bored Social Security clerk (Parker) Frank has a crush on. Needing backup, Frank calls his old spy buddies, including badass Victoria (Mirren), the delightfully loony Marvin (John Malkovich), who sees conspiracies in his conspiracies, and the underused Morgan Freeman as wily Joe. The trouble is, as a spy spoof, Red isn't nearly spoofy enough, turning into a wan, predictable caper half an hour before the final credits. By the end we're ready for Red to fade to black.