ESCAPE ROOM (15)
Director Adam Robitel and scriptwriters Bragi F. Schut and Maria Melnik tap into the craze for immersive and interactive entertainment for the warped premise of a predictable horror thriller.
Escape Room is engineered with many of the same parts as the Saw franchise, albeit without the relentless gore and entrails. Set in Chicago, the film throws together six hastily sketched strangers and compels them to play for their lives in a series of diabolically designed rooms where one wrong move could prove fatal. Only three protagonists are blessed with flimsy back stories, which tips the wink about who is likely to perish first. Playing an escape room in person is far more thrilling and intellectually stimulating than anything Robitel conjures on screen but he elicits solid performances from an ensemble cast, who are meat for the cinematic grinder.
GREEN BOOK (12A)
Inspired by a real-life friendship, Green Book is a life-affirming comedy drama which follows the tyre prints of Driving Miss Daisy to spark mutual appreciation between a chauffeur and his back-seat employer.
In the case of Peter Farrelly's charming picture, the lead characters - an Italian-American bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) and a black pianist (Mahershala Ali) - stand on opposite sides of a racial divide at a time when American motels and restaurants could segregate or exclude clientele based on the colour of their skin. The script co-written by Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga and Brian Currie fine-tunes conflict between the two men during an eight-week pre-Christmas concert tour, which screeches from the bright lights of New York City to the Mississippi Delta.
Mortensen and Ali are a delightful double-act and Linda Cardellini offers compelling support as the bouncer's proud spouse, who makes her embarrassed husband promise to "write me a letter every chance you get". Farrelly's picture pens its own love letter to the endurance of the embattled human spirit that we savour with tears of contentment in our eyes.