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The Sum of All Fears (PG-13) An expertly crafted thriller that delivers a terrifyingly believable account of the doomsday scenario so many of us now consider inevitable — terrorists smuggle in a nuclear device and detonate it on U.S. soil. The Sum of All Fears will be a little too real for many. A nutty neo-Nazi plans to play the U.S. and Russia against each other, orchestrating attacks in each country for which the other will be blamed and consequently triggering Armageddon — causing the movie to play out a little like Dr. Strangelove redone as a Hollywood thriller.

Sunshine State (PG-13) John Sayles' new film is set in a run-down Florida beach town in danger of being swallowed up by teams of competing out-of-state developers. The locals are conflicted about what to do, and the whole thing is further complicated by all sorts of factors, not excluding the various characters' race, gender and age. Sunshine State weaves a rich, complicated web, both personal and political, threading a series of smart little character sketches into an appealing mix of soap opera and ideology (not to mention some great one-liners). Stars Angela Bassett, Edie Falco, Timothy Hutton, James McDaniel and Mary Steenburgen.

Tadpole (R) See Film column.

Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (NR) It's one of the best American films of the year and certainly the most interesting movie to play at Tampa Theatre in ages. If Thirteen Conversations About One Thing has any real faults, it's that it simply tries to say too much. Snippets from the lives of several stressed-out characters are presented as a mosaic that crisscrosses effortlessly and elegantly through time and space, bringing the characters together in a way that confirms their deepest fears and our wildest hopes. The film occasionally veers into self-conscious staginess and pretense, but at other times it seems very close to a mystical experience, wordlessly wise in a way that few films manage these days. Stars Matthew McConaughey, John Turturro, Clea DuVall, Amy Irving and Alan Arkin.

Ultimate X (PG) Not your standard IMAX movie by a long shot, Ultimate X cops an attitude that's almost as edgy and irreverent as its subject matter — those Extreme Sports featured in ESPN's popular X Games, like BMX biking, skateboarding, street luge, wakeboarding, speed climbing and all other manner of daredevil events. The stunts and tricks are spectacular, and so are the wipeouts. Featured are skaters Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist and Bucky Lasek, BMX stunt riders Ryan Nyquist and Cory Nasty Nastazio and Moto X rider Carey Hart. At Channelside IMAX. Call theater to confirm.

Unfaithful (R) A tale of marital deception that starts out as a fairly standard erotic thriller but becomes much more interesting in its later stages, when it tackles the aftermath of the affair. Diane Lane stars as a more-or-less happy suburban housewife who enters into a steamy affair with a sexy French bohemian (Olivier Martinez). Lane (who's quite convincing as a woman both thrilled and repelled by what she's doing) and hubby Richard Gere sink gradually into an abyss of secrets and lies, with the movie's real strength being the unflinching detailing of that unhappy process.

XXX (R) A movie so relentlessly forward propelled that we hardly even have a chance to catch our breath and realize how utterly idiotic it all is. Vin Diesel is the star here, and he's very much in the mold of other terrible actors who get paid to anchor big, comic book movies (think Keanu in The Matrix or Arnold in almost anything). Diesel (who names these guys, anyway?) plays Xander Cage, X for short, a bald, tattooed slab of flesh given to looking straight into the camera and screaming lines like, I live for this shit! Enter Samuel L. Jackson in a wig and with latex scar tissue over half his face, as an NSA agent looking for fresh blood to combat a group of international bad guys. X is recruited, infiltrates the bad guys' group, and spends the rest of movie striding around in a ratty sheepskin coat, pulling off outrageous stunts and shouting glib catch phrases while clobbering baddies and saving the world. Also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Asia Argento and Michael Roof.

—Reviewed entries by Lance Goldenberg unless otherwise noted

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