The Accountant – Gavin O’Connor

The Accountant starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, and J.K. Simmons. Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Warner Bros

The Accountant starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, and J.K. Simmons.
Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Warner Bros

Director Gavin O’Connor doesn’t have very much to boast about in terms of past films, only 2011’s Warrior can give any sort of indication that he knows what he’s doing – and not many people saw that one – so despite the last minute marketing effort, the expectations for The Accountant were set pretty low. It could go either way, the movie could either be heavily character driven and not nearly as exciting as the previews indicated (like O’Connor’s Pride and Glory), or it could be a standard action-thriller with all the right moves. As it turns out, The Accountant was neither. The action sequences are fast-paced, satisfying, and deadly and the character development is intriguing, dramatic, and tasteful. The successful fusion of both of these genres is what makes the movie interesting and widely appealing.

Ben Affleck stars as the main character Christian Wolff, known to the U.S. Treasury Department as “the accountant”, among other aliases. He is a mathematics savant with autistic tendencies who has used his exceptional skills to provide accounting services to the criminal underworld for years, while managing to stay alive between jobs. As expected, he has his unique quirks and his ability to understand social cues is virtually non-existent, but his neurodevelopment disorder is never ridiculed or used as the brunt of the joke in The Accountant. Some scenes and exchanges are amusing, but the general “handling” of the condition (as well as its diagnosis) is in no way offensive. Christian’s other impressive skill, explained in a series of childhood flashbacks, is that he is a killing machine; of course, he only puts this to good use when the situation calls for it and when it appeals to his moral code.

When Christian takes on what is thought to be a low-key job investigating some missing money at a robotics company, things start to unravel. Both he and a fellow accountant Dana (Anna Kendrick) find themselves in a situation that calls for him to mostly use his secondary set of skills. Anna Kendrick is delightfully awkward as always and manages to compliment the mostly stoic Affleck. The plot (or plots) is a bit of a mess at times, but the conclusion mostly makes up for any mistakes along the 128-minute pathway.

The supporting cast is quite good, with John Lithgow (Interstellar) as the head of the robotics firm, J.K Simmons (Whiplash) and Cynthia Addai-Robinson as the treasury agents hot on Christian’s trail, Jon Bernthal (Sicario) as deadly hitman, and finally Jeffrey Tambor in a small role as a fellow inmate.

Critics haven’t been very impressed with The Accountant since its release on October 14, 2016, but audiences have generally found it entertaining and worth watching. It’s not your everyday garden variety action film, nor is it a boring piece solely focused on character development. While it won’t win any awards or be remembered for years to come, it takes the good parts from each genre and manages to win you over in the end.

The Accountant was a solid #1 hit in its opening weekend, bringing in over $24M domestically (U.S.A).

Watch the official trailer here:

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Avengers: Age of Ultron – Joss Whedon

Avengers: Age of Ultron starring Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, and James Spader

Avengers: Age of Ultron starring Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, and James Spader

So many heroes, so few villains; it’s almost not even fair. Even so, the Avengers are pushed to their brink in Avengers: Age of Ultron as they face off against a web-based villain and some ‘enhanced’ twins with super powers. The second movie in the Avengers franchise is exactly what fans wanted and contained enough comic book material to make the Marvel aficionados squeal with glee…for a full 141 minutes. The audience finally gets to see characters as human (so to speak) when they fall under some mystic power and come face-to-face with their fears and other dark events from their past. Later, while tinkering with some supreme power beyond their comprehension, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. Banner (Mark Ruffalo) accidentally create artificial intelligence (named Ultron). Ultron, whose main purpose was for world protection, was somehow corrupted and starts to believe that the Avengers and people in general are what the world needs to be rid of in order to start over and eventually thrive – and you can sort of see his point here. So, in order to rid the world of its disease, his plan is exterminate it and leave it to the rubble.

While the story itself is unnecessarily complex and contains pieces from all the other Marvel movies that some audience goers may have missed (or skipped), it certainly isn’t short on action. Fans of the other Marvel movies will get immense pleasure from the dizzying fight sequences, the inside jokes, and the fun that goes along with watching these heroes risk their lives for the greater good – others will just roll their eyes. Whether or not this movie is enjoyed wholeheartedly or simply brushed off as another shallow feature from the money-making machine that is Marvel will depend completely on expectations. It will be corny, it will be ridiculous, but thankfully it’s not pretending to be anything but good, mindless, fun. Unless a Marvel movie is written and directed by Christopher Nolan in the future, they are never going to be anything other than that. Avengers: Age of Ultron and its writer/director Joss Whedon have delivered what the majority of movie-goers want from a superhero movie, as evidenced by the amount of money it has made at the box office so far.

The heroes featured in the movie include: Tony Stark/Iron Man, whose quick wit and sarcasm is classic Robert Downey Jr.; Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who is subtly funny and whose hammer is the source of a few laughs; Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), whom the others just seem to tolerate; Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), whose romantic interest in Bruce Banner/The Hulk, the guy who is only useful when he’s dangerous, just seems forced; and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the guy who uses a bow and arrow and whose value we don’t really understand. One would think that would be enough brawn and testosterone to thwart any evil plan the universe could throw at the Earth… and one would be right. The odds are always in their favour but as with every epic hero vs. villain movie, all hope is (temporarily) lost until a last minute plan reveals itself. In the meantime, the characters have to work together to figure it out and overcome some tension developing within the group.

James Spader is the voice of Ultron and those who know him well from Boston Legal and The Blacklist will be happy to know that the character, at times, has a very familiar humour that shines through his villainous, metal façade. Once again, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth steal the show as they play the least uptight characters in the movie and provide the majority of the laughs. There are some new faces but the majority of the characters from the other movies return for the fight against evil. Fans will surely be happy to see their old friends once again.

Furious 7 – James Wan

Furious 7 starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, and Jason Statham.

Furious 7 starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, and Jason Statham.

The latest installment of the Fast and Furious franchise is not likely to be the last, but it certainly feels like the perfect wrap-up to the series and exactly what its fans were hoping for. With each new movie, the stunts as well as the characters get more ridiculous and, to put it bluntly, more badass; each new fight or heist sequence strives to top the previous one. Furious 7 is much bigger and better than the other movies in terms of action and one might even go so far as to say it’s even a little over-the-top, but it delivers such a solid and respectful send-off to its lead actor Paul Walker at the end that all other nonsense is forgiven. After nearly fourteen years of getting to know the main characters, it’s like watching old friends get into trouble all over again. This movie actually adds a layer of emotion and depth that was missing from some of the earlier movies – but it is offset by a number of insane and impossible stunts involving cars, planes (once again), and very tall condos.

In order to tie in the events that took place at the end of the obvious outlier in the series, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (#3), it becomes apparent that Furious 7 takes place after the events in Fast & Furious 6 as well as the third movie. The backstory doesn’t really matter and all one really needs to know is that this movie is just about revenge, and that revenge comes in the form of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) doing everything in his power to take down Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his gang. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson reprises his role as Hobbs and delivers his usual one-liners and flexes his muscles, while Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, and Tyrese Gibson also star in the movie as the characters the audience knows well and has come to love. There are a number of satisfying one-on-one brawls in the movie and chase sequences that will make your head spin and your eyes roll, but that is what the franchise has become and why people will watch it – and enjoy it.

Furious 7 is admittedly too long and has a number of gaping holes, but if you’re in the mood for a fun (and fast) ride, it serves the purpose well. What the movie does best, however, is handle the death of Paul Walker during the filming by re-writing the ending to give him the proper goodbye. It’s touching and absolutely perfect; especially because one knows the words are real and come directly from the hearts of the actors involved, Vin Diesel in particular. If you never thought he could deliver heartfelt dialogue that could make you cry real tears, you better think again – and bring tissues.

Edge of Tomorrow – Doug Liman

Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt

It was a summer filled with crowd pleasing blockbusters like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Transformers 4 but if you didn’t get a chance to see Edge of Tomorrow in theatres, then be sure to look for it on DVD/Blu-Ray October 7. In a spring/summer filled with sequels, it was one of the more unique movies to hit theatres and, given its company, it didn’t get as much credit as it should have.

It was like Groundhog Day on steroids, and a lot less annoying. Tom Cruise plays “Major William Cage” who unexpectedly gets caught in the middle of a seemingly unwinnable war against robotic aliens and at the same time finds himself in a continuous time-loop where he cannot stay dead. When he does die, which is inevitable in this alien war, he wakes up a moment later at the beginning of the first day where he must relive all of the same moments over again. It was refreshing to see him in a role where he starts off as a bit of a coward who doesn’t know what he’s doing and grows into the macho killing machine we’re so used to. He’s the opposite of a hero when he begins his journey to the front lines where the battle resembles the beginning of Saving Private Ryan, except with terrifying alien killing machines and a lot more fire power. Emily Blunt was surprisingly a great fit for the female lead, a bad-ass war hero with a take-no-shit attitude.

It’s a lot of fun to watch Cage die over and over again and attempt to figure out different ways to make it through the day without getting himself killed, and of course save mankind in the process. Edge of Tomorrow is an extremely fast-paced movie with enough complexity and witty dialogue that makes one wonder how it was all crammed into 113 minutes, an ideal length for an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi action movie (Michael Bay, please take note).

Tom Cruise, as always, has a lot of impressive stunts and actually comes across as funny as the movie plays on. As he quickly becomes a seasoned war veteran through his live, die, repeat sequence, we see him slowly gain the respect of Rita (Emily Blunt) and their relationship, mostly based on tolerance and sarcasm, is pretty amusing to watch. There is some chemistry there, but thankfully that’s not what the movie is focused on.

All in all, it is a unique, fun, and action-packed movie that most people should enjoy. The plot is fairly complex but shouldn’t be too hard to follow as you gain more and more knowledge of the situation as the movie progresses. Do yourself a favour and don’t focus on the loopholes (there are bound to be a few in a story like this) – just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.