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BLACK MASS

Johnny Depp un­buck­les the swash and re­turns to se­ri­ous act­ing in this of­ten pow­er­ful but ul­ti­mately un­ful­filled real-life crime drama that as­pires to op­er­atic pro­por­tions but set­tles for heavy me­tal. The story of James “Whitey” Bul­ger (Depp), the so­cio­pathic crime boss who ruled South Bos­ton with a mur­der­ous hand un­til he went on the lam in the mid-‘90s, hits im­pres­sive high notes, but leaves un­der­done some cru­cial el­e­ments, as it plows through a gallery of bru­tal mur­ders and other crimes. Bul­ger’s child­hood pal John Con­nolly (an ex­cel­lent Joel Edger­ton, The Gift), up from the same Southie neigh­bor­hood as Whitey, works another side of the street as an FBI agent who starts with good in­ten­tions but gets sucked into a bot­tom­less moral com­pro­mise. The movie looks great, and is beau­ti­fully acted, shot, and edited. What it lacks is that sense of di­men­sion to make us re­ally care. Rated R. 122 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown; DreamCatcher. (Jonathan Richards)

THE BLACK PAN­THERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVO­LU­TION

Stan­ley Nel­son’s doc­u­men­tary about the Black Pan­thers’ for­ma­tion in 1967 is es­pe­cially timely as we find our­selves in a new wave of racial ten­sion and ac­tivism with the rise of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment, formed — like the Pan­thers — in op­po­si­tion to po­lice vi­o­lence. For­mer mem­bers tell the story of the move­ment’s rise and fall, which was both mil­i­ta­rized with guns and ded­i­cated to so­cial progress through free break­fast pro­grams and med­i­cal clin­ics. They re­count ha­rass­ment their fam­i­lies en­dured for their ac­tivism as well as the big per­son­al­i­ties of the lead­ers, and sex­ism within the or­ga­ni­za­tion. With writ­ten doc­u­men­ta­tion flash­ing on the screen, re­tired Oak­land po­lice of­fi­cers dis­cuss how the or­ga­ni­za­tion was tar­geted by law en­force­ment agen­cies and the FBI. A panel dis­cus­sion with for­mer Pan­ther Aaron Dixon and Jeff Haas, Fred Hamp­ton’s lawyer, fol­lows the 2 p.m. Sun­day, Sept. 20, screen­ing. Not rated. 113 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Jen­nifer Levin)

CAP­TIVE

The latest en­try in the sud­denly crowded genre of faith-based movies is this thriller star­ring Kate Mara as a woman who is go­ing through a rough patch. When a killer (David Oyelowo, Selma) on the run takes her hostage, they read the de­vo­tional book The Pur­pose-Driven Life to­gether and learn how to heal, grow, and find for­give­ness through God. Based on the true story of Ash­ley Smith’s hostage or­deal in At­lanta in 2005.

Rated PG-13. 97 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Not re­viewed)

GRANDMA

Rated R. 79 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. See re­view, Page 50.

A HARD DAY

Go Gun-soo (Lee Sun-kyun) is a de­tec­tive whose day starts out badly and only gets worse. He has just com­mit­ted a homi­cide, by ac­ci­dent, on route to his mother’s fu­neral, so he hides the body in his mother’s cof­fin. At work, he’s un­der pres­sure be­cause his cor­rupt unit is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. To make mat­ters worse, he starts re­ceiv­ing phone calls from an al­leged wit­ness to the morn­ing’s ac­ci­dent from some­one who’s try­ing to black­mail him. Di­rec­tor Kim Seonghun’s mor­bidly comic thriller casts its pro­tag­o­nist into one tight spot af­ter another as he nav­i­gates South Korea’s crim­i­nal un­der­world while jug­gling his own trou­bles and stay­ing alive. But he’s no good cop on a mis­sion. If any­thing, A Hard Day is about bad cops and worse cops, and it’s as un­re­lent­ing as it is fun as it hur­tles to­ward a show­down be­tween Gun-soo and his neme­sis. Not rated. 111 min­utes. In Korean with sub­ti­tles. The Screen. (Michael Abatemarco)

MAZE RUN­NER: THE SCORCH TRI­ALS

At the end of the 2014 film The Maze Run­ner (based on the first book in a pop­u­lar young-adult se­ries), the kids es­cape the maze. So what can they pos­si­bly do for a se­quel? This time, they must nav­i­gate the Scorch, a dan­ger­ous, de­crepit, desert city — the movie was shot pri­mar­ily in Al­bu­querque — and fight the op­pres­sive or­ga­ni­za­tion WCKD. Rated PG-13. 131 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed)

QUEEN OF EARTH

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Kather­ine Water­ston (In­her­ent Vice) play two friends who va­ca­tion at a lake house to­gether, de­spite their hav­ing grown apart. This nar­ra­tive could be told in many dif­fer­ent ways, but writer and di­rec­tor Alex Ross Perry (Lis­ten Up Philip) frames it as a hor­ror story, with a moody score drift­ing darkly across the char­ac­ters’ sur­real and oc­ca­sion­ally shock­ing be­hav­ior. The movie doesn’t stray from this tone, which can make it dif­fi­cult to watch, but the film­mak­ing and act­ing shows quite a lot of skill. Not rated.

90 min­utes. Jean Cocteau Cin­ema. (Robert Ker)

TEN THOU­SAND SAINTS

Rated R. 113 min­utes. The Screen. See re­view, Page 52.

Power to the peo­ple: Bobby Seale, left, and Huey P. New­ton in Black Pan­thers: Vanguard of the Revo­lu­tion, at Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts

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