Two gangsters of a very different sort are hitting theaters this weekend — De Niro's funny wiseguy in "Analyze That" and John Leguizamo's Bronx drug lord in "Empire." Select cities will also be treated to the much-heralded, convention-smashing "Adaptation" and the futuristic "Equilibrium."
"Analyze That," the sequel to the "Sopranos"-like psychiatrist/mob-boss comedy "Analyze This," reunites Robert De Niro with comedian Billy Crystal, who returns as the convicted mob figure's psychoanalyst. This time, he's helping De Niro's character cope with life after prison.
In "Empire," Leguizamo ("Moulin Rouge!") stars as Vic Rosa, a criminal whose well-meaning attempt to enter into legitimate business is exploited by a white-collar criminal who Rosa seeks revenge against after losing a large sum of cash to him. Rappers Fat Joe and Treach, along with onetime James Bond girl Denise Richards, co-star.
And how best to encapsulate "Adaptation," a flick with a premise that almost defies description? Spike Jonze directs this story about real-life screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who last teamed with Jonze on the acclaimed "Being John Malkovich," and his fictional twin brother, Donald, both played by Nicolas Cage. It follows Charlie's post-"Malkovich" attempt to adapt a real-life book — about a man obsessed with rare orchids — into a screenplay, and what happens when he decides to insert elements from his own life into the story. It reads confusingly, but by all early accounts, plays effectively. Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper ("The Bourne Identity") and Brian Cox ("The Ring") also star.
Also going the limited-opening route is "Equilibrium," which stars Christian Bale ("Reign of Fire") as a government agent in a future society where expressing emotion is outlawed. The bizarre law is partially enforced by a drug that Bale's character skips a dose of, which eventually sends him into conflict with his job.