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New in Theaters January 12: The Commuter, Proud Mary, Paddington 2, The Post

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By Chris Kavan - 01/11/18 at 06:46 AM CT

After Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle made a surge into first place last weekend, the box office is about to be hit with three new wide releases and a major expansion for an awards-season hopeful. Liam Neeson gets back to doing what he does best (that is, kick ass), we have a bear of a family-friendly sequel, Taraji P. Henson also gets to flex some action muscles while Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep put on an Oscar worthy show, courtesy of one Mr. Steven Spielberg. The box office has been looking mighty so far in 2018, we'll see if the newcomers and holdovers can combine for another winning weekend.

THE COMMUTER Liam Neeson is no stranger to action, from fighting wolves to finding the men who kidnapped his daughter (or wife - or both) and making them pay. The Commuter is right in his wheelhouse. Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, a businessman who is approached by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga), hours after losing his job, with an offer of $100,000. All he has to do is use some of his skills picked up when he was a cop (that's why he's such a badass in this movie) and plant a tracking device on another passenger. Oh, but things can't be that easy, and soon enough he's caught up in a huge conspiracy with far-reaching consequences, for not just his family, but much, much more. Director Jaume Collet-Serra has teamed with Neeson in the past, Unknown, Run All Night and Non-Stop - so the pairing should work out just fine. It depends on how much audiences are in the mood for action. The gang's all here - we'll see who shows up.

PROUD MARY If Neeson isn't enough to get your action fix, Taraji P. Henson is here to deliver a second knockout punch. Henson plays the titular character, a hitwoman in league with a Boston crime syndicate who is very good at her job. But, in a twist that reminds me a fair bit of the Jean Reno classic The Professional (aka Leon), when a job goes wrong she finds herself looking after a young charge (played by newcomer Jahi Di'Allo Winston) and finding a new outlook on life. Of course this new outlook doesn't fit in with her current line of work - but leaving isn't exactly something allowed by her bosses. Neal McDonough, Danny Glover, Xander Berkeley, Billy Brown and Margaret Avery help round out the cast. Whereas The Commuter is straight-up action, Proud Mary looks to dig a bit deeper, probably more character and drama. It will be interesting to see which film audiences embrace.

PADDINGTON 2 The furry guy with a penchant for marmalade makes a big-screen return. Paddington 2 finds the fuzzy companion (voiced by Ben Whishaw) fitting in nicely with the Brown family. With Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday coming up, Paddington has located the perfect gift, a unique pop-up book in a local antique shop. In order to afford it, he begins a series of odd jobs but just as he earns the right amount of money, the book is stolen, leading Paddington and the Browns on a quest to track down the culprit. This leads to a prison stint, of course, because why wouldn't it? The cast has all returned - Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Imelda Staunton, Julie Walters and Michael Gambon all reprise their roles from the original film. There are plenty of family options out there right now, so we'll see how this affects the bottom line for Paddington 2. The first film was received well enough, so I have a feeling this second outing will perform just fine.

THE POST Steven Spielberg is as comfortable with blockbusters as he is with hard-hitting biopics. The Post is shaping up to be another serious contender for awards-season status. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep anchor the film that follows the first female newspaper publisher (Streep) and her hard-driving editor (Hanks) when they are given The Pentagon Papers, which details a cover-up that spanned four presidents in regards to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. It leads both down a path that could threaten not only their own jobs, but the entire paper, as they go toe-to-toe with the government regarding the story. Each person is in their element here, and The Post has received great reviews. It has a lot of competition this year, but it's not going to diminish the impact this film has if it doesn't win any major awards. It's hard to say where this will end up over the weekend due to the crowded adult market, but hopefully it will wind up where it deserves.

It's going to be another big weekend. Jumanji may still have the edge, but the action films should make an impact as well. I'll be back on Sunday with the results.


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