Repetition is part of mainstream film culture. You don't think about that when you buy your ticket, but you're participating in it all the time. And you like it. So do I. It's the reason my seven-year-old nephew wants to watch his Cars 2 DVD over and over. It's the reason I can sit down to see my thousandth martial arts action movie, horror film, heist caper or murder mystery; I almost always know what's coming and I don't care. I just want my expectations reinforced. I want to half-pay attention and still get what the movie's got to give me. It's comforting.
The killer must be found, the runaway train must be halted, the asteroid aiming for Earth must be destroyed and the ending must tie up all the frayed ends. The finished product can be expertly manufactured or it can be mediocre. As long as a reasonable standard of generic quality is maintained and the payoff is the same, nobody will much mind.
So here's another installment of That Sort of Thing. It meets the minimum requirements and its unwillingness to be bold, original, daring or surprising might not excite you, but it also won't make you angry. It's got a wronged man in need of exoneration (Sam Worthington), and evil rich guy in need of comeuppance (Ed Harris) and a wrung-out cop in need of redemption (Elizabeth Banks). It's got a stick-it-to-The-Man heist committed by a young, sexy, joke-relief couple (Genesis Rodriguez, Jamie Bell) and a couple of secret bad guys you'll spot in the first five minutes.
During the hundred minutes you spend with it, you'll wonder what country Sam Worthington's character is supposed to be from. Is it Australia? America? None of the above? Did he just ditch his frustrated on-set dialect coach to go surfing? You'll also wonder why the filmmakers decided to cast Elizabeth Banks as a cop in a downward spiral when everything about her radiates over-achievement. She's the one you call to go Type A after Reese Witherspoon passes. Finally, you'll wonder why the movie isn't just about Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez. She comically pushes way past the limitations of a role that would be happy just to keep her half-dressed and he charismatically courts her the entire way. What you will not wonder about is the outcome. Nothing here threatens to make you feel like you were sold you anything other than what you came for.
But then you'll stop wondering because none of it really matters anyway. After a few weeks in theaters where audiences will have an medium-good time, it will wind up on Netflix and then premium cable. Ultimately it will find a home on TBS, interrupted by commercials. You'll wonder again, when it flickers out of your TV, "Did I see this one before or not? I didn't. Oh, wait, yes I did. Well, whatever. It's on now."