50. The Droving
Sadly, our heroes make the worst possible decisions or simply don't make decisions at all and just let things happen. The characters all have a ton of heart, but that made it hurt even more that they're aggressively dumb. (Fortunately for them, the bad guys blunder just as hard.)
World-building is a weird thing to complain about in a movie like this, but it's also super unclear how things work in this alternate reality where a popular drug has taken over the culture. Are there no cell phones here? Do ambulances and law enforcement not exist? Disappointing.
48. The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two
But all of that is overshadowed by the cheesiest, easiest dialogue, heavy-handed exposition, and performances (even by Russell, but especially by the kid actors) that can't overcome the corniness of what they're forced to say. I couldn't get invested in this one like I did the original. Even Santa's musical number lacked excitement, partly because it was so expected this time and partly because they went with a cheesy original song instead of a rocking classic.
Ava wants to be Blue Jasmine, but with assassins. The assassin stuff is fun, but diluted by extremely troubled Jessica Chastain trying to reconcile with her extremely troubled family. It's cool to try to blend those things in one story, but the mix is off and the relationships and dialogue are trite at their core (one pretty great scene between Chastain and Geena Davis notwithstanding).
Eckhart gives a great performance, as do Heather Graham and Tommy Lee Jones as his friends who support him in different ways and from opposite sides. Jones encourages Eckhart's theories while Graham believes they're imagined and wants Eckhart to get better.
But somehow in all of this greatness, the movie fails to get me invested in Eckhart. The ambiguity is wonderful for my imagination, but works against Eckart's character. If his theories are real, I want to jump on Team Tommy Lee Jones and root for him to expose the conspiracy. If Eckhart is just deeply sick, I want to join Team Heather Graham and pray for Eckhart to get the help he needs. Since the film never makes that clear, I don't know what I want for this character and that's a big problem.