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Submergence

Wim Wenders has tackled any number of genres during his five-decade-long career, so a John le Carré-type thriller seems like a perfectly logical move.

As his adaptation of the J.M. Ledgard novel begins, bio-mathematician Danielle (Alicia Vikander in anti-Lara Croft mode) is having trouble concentrating on her deep-sea expedition, because she hasn't heard from James (a bald-no-more James McAvoy), her British agent boyfriend, for over a month. Wenders shuffles the timeline to show how they fell in love in scenic, windswept Normandy before catching up with James, who is now the captive of Al Shabab jihadists in Somalia. The director, working from Erin Dignam's script, continues to shuffle the pieces until they snap into place.

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Chances are good that he cast McAvoy and Vikander because he thought they were right for the film, but the actors are also connected through Michael Fassbender, McAvoy's X-Men co-star and Vikander's husband. Unfortunately, Wenders is unable to capture much chemistry when they're together or suspense when they're apart, and I'm not sure it's the actors' fault, not when he's brought such unlikely pairs as Paris, Texas's Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski together to such fine effect. Rather, he's off his game with scene after scene where everyone is dutifully going through the motions, but no one seems particularly invested in the material. For completists only.

For information about Submergence and other films, visit Movie Times.