Short reviews of movies playing throughout the Tampa Bay area.

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TWISTED (R) Ashley Judd is the only thing remotely worthwhile about this depressingly sub-generic thriller from once-reliable director Philip Kaufman (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Henry and June). Judd stars as a newly promoted homicide detective investigating a series of murders in which she's the prime suspect. (It seems the gal's given to self-destructive one-night stands, slurping mass quantities of wine, then passing out and waking up with her bed-partner dead.) Then again, this is one of those idiotic movies where everyone acts guilty and where everyone's a potential killer, but none of it matters because nothing makes sense and no characters are developed enough for us to remotely care about them. Samuel L. Jackson's here too, walking through this mess of a movie just long enough to collect a paycheck. Also stars Andy Garcia.

TYCOON (NR) Part Citizen Kane, part Godfather and Scarface, but without much of the cohesive power of any of those, Tycoon tells of the rise and fall of a ruthless industrial giant in post-Communist Russia. The film is based on the real-life oligarch Boris Berezovsky and employs a Kane-like structure to flash back and forth in time as an investigation is mounted to reveal the truth behind the man. As is usually the case, the truth turns out to be a more slippery creature than anyone imagined, but the movie winds up providing some interesting insights into the Soviet rush to capitalism while telling the story of an empire builder brought low by corruption and scandal. The performances are solid and the material intriguing, but it's laid out in an overly convoluted manner that tends to become a bit alienating, while the film's flashback structure ultimately works against the natural momentum of the drama. Stars Vladimir Mashkov, Andei Kasko and Maria Mironova. Opens April 2 at Madstone Theaters. 1/2

WALKING TALL (PG-13) With a running time of barely 75 minutes, Walking Tall feels like a movie whittled down to the essentials, and just barely going through the motions. Sadly, those essentials don't include character development or attempting to craft an interesting, cohesive story. The movie has no qualms about spending a few extra minutes here and there dwelling on exotic dancers in wet T-shirts, but doesn't seem to think major plot developments are worth devoting screen time to. This is all you need to know: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as a tough, ex-soldier who finds that his nice little hometown has turned into a den of iniquity and vows to single-handedly clean it up. The action scenes are energetic and bloody, and Johnny Knoxville provides some pleasant comic relief as the hero's sidekick, but this wisp of a movie is mostly just a reason for audiences to squeal at The Rock's pecs and scream "Kill him!" when his character corners the bad guys. Also stars Neal McDonaugh and Ashley Scott. Opens April 2 at local theaters

WHAT ALICE FOUND (R) There's undeniable promise but also missteps aplenty in this coming-of-age/road movie that inexplicably nabbed a Special Jury Prize at Sundance. Emily Grace stars as 18-year-old Alice, who runs away from her dead-end life up North and hits the open road in search of sunny Florida beaches and whatever. What Alice finds, as the movie has it, is something altogether different, beginning with a kindly older couple who offer the girl a ride and turn out to be anything but what they initially seem. First-time director A. Dean Bell allows the film's relationships to play out in ways that often seem like something intriguing is on the verge of happening, but the movie ultimately just doesn't have too much to say about anything. There's a klutzy, amateurish quality about this shot-on-video project that's endearing at first, but soon overstays its welcome. Also stars Judith Ivey and Bill Raymond.

Reviewed entries by Lance Goldenberg unless otherwise noted.

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