“The Accountant” – A Hidden Asset

[I am now reviewing movies for BlogCritics.org and the following review first appeared on their site March 17. ]

 

The-Accountant-movie

The Accountant is a 2016 American action thriller that deserves more recognition than it has received to date. Chris Wolff (Ben Affleck), whose brilliance as a forensic accountant is demanded by organized crime syndicates around the globe, is a high functioning Asperger math savant. Chris’s backstory equips him with the martial arts necessary to defend himself against the most violent of his clients.

His clients communicate via cell phone to an anonymous woman whose identity is not known until the very last five minutes of the film. In pursuit of Chris are Ray King (the always satisfying J.K. Simmons), a director in the Treasury Department, and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who is bullied into cooperation.

With the Treasury Department’s financial crime division in hot pursuit, Chris is hired by a robotics company to analyze a multi-million dollar accounting discrepancy. Dana (Anna Kendrick), a low-ranking accountant, is asked to support Chris as he disentangles the complicated income statements. Together they realize that the company has a very troublesome past of malfeasance. Soon the body count rises.

The script is so well crafted and intricate, with major subplots involving what seems like minor characters at first, that the viewer will not know what’s coming. A complicated structure that requires patience and a high level of focus, The Accountant will not be for those whose minds wander as in so many action thrillers. But this brainy film is certainly not your typical adrenaline-pumping action flick. The writers combine the autistic/accounting sides of the savant with the backstory of intense family dysfunction. The tragic family dynamics switch to humor, at moments, for relief.

An intricately structured thriller boasting multiple plot twists and heart-pounding surprise turns, some viewers may think the narrative requires too much concentration. An entertaining, high calibre action drama makes The Accountant a largely satisfying crowd-pleaser for those who like something else besides sniper attacks and car chases. Four out off five stars!

“Gone Girl” –Fast and Furious

Gone Girl

Gone Girl

Probably the blockbuster film of 2014, “Gone Girl” has received both critical praise and Oscar buzz since its debut on October 3.

Sometimes, while bringing a book to life in a movie, a lot is lost in translation—-not in this case. Both the book and the film are so damn good, perhaps because the extraordinary author, Gillian Flynn, is also the screenwriter and she knows what is an essential distillation of the narrative.  Gone girl 2

 

 

The movie is a fast-paced dark and dangerous ride directed by the remarkable David Fincher (“Social Network”, and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”). Like the novel, the film leaves you questioning how well you truly know those around you, perhaps especially the person you married. Are there secrets you may never know? Marriages can hide a lot when everyone is watching. “Gone Girl” is about concepts of masculinity and femininity, our ideal partner, the one we fantasize about, not settle for, and most devastatingly, about the compromises we sometimes make. In the case of the marriage between Nick Dunne (a not-so-different role for Ben Affleck) and Amy Elliott Dunne (the impeccable Rosamund Pike of Masterpiece Theater acclaim) the power game is a withering and frightening cat-and-mouse game literally turned into a blood sport.

Every character was cast almost perfectly. The acting keeps you engaged at all times–wondering, could this really happen or is it too preposterous? The music—-very eerie, contributed to making the suspense even more chilling.

See this movie.

“Argo”–An Argonaut for Our Time

Although this movie is nominated for eight Academy Awards and won several Golden Globes (including Best Motion Picture in Drama and Best Director), it has not received the traction or box office success that it so richly deserves.  With Ben Affleck’s masterful direction, production and acting in “Argo” the studio and distributor have decided to re-release this film after the Academy Awards.

Based on a 1979 historical event at the  American embassy in Tehran,  six American  employees manage to escape and seek protection at the nearby Canadian embassy immediately prior to the storming of the US embassy by Iranian revolutionaries., “Argo”  kicks into high gear once Affleck lands in Iran. Affleck, on the other hand, is incredibly sympathetic, and it’s  fear for him that drives the emotional energy of the narrative. With few options, CIA technical operations expert Tony Mendez devises a daring plan: to simulate producing a  Canadian sci-fi film –preposterously far-fetched– on location in Tehran  in order to smuggle the Americans out as its production crew. With the help of some Hollywood industry contacts, Mendez flies to Iran as the film’s associate producer. However, time is running out.  Iranian security forces are zeroing in on the truth while both the Americans-in-hiding and the White House have serious doubts about the operation’s viability.

The story is intense and suspenseful, even though the viewer knows the outcome. Crackling with energy and determination to outsmart the Iranian revolutionaries, “Argo” captures the mood of our country. Affleck plays the quintessential American hero, confident to a fault, who will do anything to protect those he is responsible for–and  it is our fear for him that drives the emotional content of the film.