Movie Review: “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”

Starring
Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Robert Knepper, Patrick Heusinger, Aldis Hodge
Director
Edward Zwick

One of the main reasons why “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” is an invigorating sequel is because it doesn’t share a whole lot in common with its predecessor. While Christopher McQuarrie’s lean and muscular thriller didn’t dig very deep into its titular character, director Edward Zwick’s film raises plenty of questions about the former military man. Zwick, a filmmaker known more for dramas than popcorn thrillers, brings his personal touch to the series based on Lee Child’s popular novels while also producing an impressive crowd-pleaser.

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is still drifting, traveling from town to town with a few dollars in his pocket. As the opening establishes, though, the former major isn’t done helping people in need. He also still has some ties to the military, like Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), who often works with Reacher, but only over the phone. After the two develop a friendship and respect for each other, they make plans to meet when Reacher travels to Washington D.C. Once Reacher arrives in the nation’s capital and enters her office, however, he discovers that Turner is facing accusations of treason. Reacher doesn’t buy it, and he’ll do whatever he can do to prove her innocence.

Part of what’s great about McQuarrie’s film is that Jack Reacher is already Jack Reacher. He’s not at a moral crossroads. He knows right and wrong. He knows who he is. On the other hand, what’s so appealing about Zwick’s film is that we get to see Reacher start to ask questions about himself. We learned more about Reacher through action in McQuarrie’s movie, and this time around, screenwriters Richard Wenk, Marshall Herskovitz and Zwick place some of those actions under a microscope. There’s an inherent sadness to the character’s way of life; he has no real personal connections. “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” often likes to take its time to truly show what kind of effect that life of solitude would have on someone.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Movie Review: “The Accountant”

Starring
Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, J.K. Simmons, John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor
Director
Gavin O’Connor

What if Jason Bourne wasn’t an amnesiac super-soldier but rather a high-functioning autistic man with comparable fighting skills? That appears to be the general idea behind Gavin O’Connor’s “The Accountant,” a film suffering from such an identity crisis that it’s unclear exactly what kind of movie he’s trying to make. Though it starts out as both a fairly generic crime procedural and a zen-like character study about an on-the-spectrum math genius struggling to lead a normal life, it completely changes gears midway through and transforms into a straight-up action thriller. The problem is that “The Accountant” never stops being those other movies either, resulting in a convoluted and tonally unbalanced mess that is occasionally entertaining but feels like it’s a few drafts away from a finished product.

Small-town accountant Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) isn’t like everybody else. He’s highly intelligent, a proficient marksman and capable of winning a knife fight with only a belt. In fact, Christian isn’t even his real name; it’s just one of many aliases he uses to stay off the grid. Raised by his sadistic military father, who eschewed traditional therapy for an unorthodox childhood designed to prepare him for the toughness of the real world, the antisocial Christian now moonlights as a forensic accountant for dangerous criminal organizations, uncooking the books to locate missing money. Determined to stay one step ahead of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes division, led by director Raymond King (J.K. Simmons), Christian accepts a seemingly innocuous job auditing a high-profile robotics company after an accounting clerk named Dana (Anna Kendrick) discovers a discrepancy in the finances. But as Christian and Dana get closer to exposing the truth, they’re targeted by a contract killer (Jon Bernthal) who’s been hired by someone within the company to contain the leak.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Movie Review: “The Birth of a Nation”

Starring
Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Gabrielle Union, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Jacke Earle Haley
Director
Nate Parker

“The Birth of a Nation” is sometimes an oddly inconsistent film, but it’s a movie that’s never without passion. Nat Turner’s story, as depicted by actor, writer, producer and first-time director Nate Parker, is often a moving experience. Though the Turner biopic has garnered controversy recently, as past rape allegations against an acquitted Parker have come to light, there’s no denying that Parker’s directorial debut is an emotional piece of work.

When Nathaniel “Nat” Turner (Parker) was a boy, he had a vision of his ancestors marking him as a future leader. This isn’t the only vision that comes to Turner, who, from a young age, was taught to read and the word of God by Elizabeth (Penelope Ann Miller), the wife to his present slave owner and mother to his future slave owner, Samuel (Armie Hammer). Turner grows into a strong, baptist preacher, speaking the word of God to the slaves on the plantation. When Samuel, who falsely believes he’s better than other slave owners because of his rare moments of empathy, has Turner start preaching on other plantations, he can no longer stand the horrors he sees. The slave owners hope a preacher discussing peace could help prevent insurrection, but their plan has the opposite effect, as Turner’s visions – including one of a crop filling up with blood – propel Turner to lead a violent rebellion.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Movie Review: “The Girl on the Train”

Starring
Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Allison Janney
Director
Tate Taylor

Paula Hawkins’ “The Girl on the Train” instantly drew comparisons to Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” thanks to the use of multiple viewpoints, but let’s make something clear: as enjoyable as “Train” was to read, it doesn’t come close to plumbing the emotional depths that Flynn wrote into the truly psychotic Amy Dunne. At the same time, this works in the favor of the film version of “The Girl on the Train.” Erin Cressida Wilson’s script puts a higher percentage of the source material into the film (the one thing book fanatics complain about the most), and the story’s main obstacle (recovering a lost memory) is a tried and true film device. Ask anyone who saw “Jason Bourne” earlier this year.

Films, however, reveal things that books do not, and that is what prevents “The Girl on the Train” from hitting the next level. It is competently made, with some outstanding performances, but the book is capable of concealing things that the film cannot. And with that, we will say no more.

Rachel (Emily Blunt) is a sad, drunk divorcee, taking the train five days a week to a job she no longer has. The train takes her by the house she once lived in, the one her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) now shares with Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and their baby daughter. A couple of houses down, Rachel sees a younger couple that seems blissfully in love. Recognizing that they have what she’s lost, she becomes obsessed with them, giving them fake names and occupations while she spies on them for a few seconds each day. One day, Rachel sees what appears to be a betrayal on a member of the happy couple, and when one of them disappears shortly after, she offers what she thinks she knows to the police, only to discover that in doing so, she has made herself the prime suspect.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Movie Review: “American Honey”

Starring
Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough, McCaul Lombardi
Director
Andrea Arnold

Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey” is a nearly three-hour film that, on the surface, doesn’t add up to a lot. This coming-of-age tale is extra light on plot, but it has no shortage of energy or passion. This is the kind of movie where every shot and scene is tangible. The director behind “Fish Tank” and “Red Road” has crafted a hypnotic experience, presenting a world and characters that keep your eyes glued to the screen for 163 minutes.

Star (Sasha Lane) is an 18-year-old girl who’s looking for a new life, and she might just find it with Jake (Shia LaBeouf) and his crew, who travel the country selling magazines. One day while out with her younger brother and sister, she spots Jake and his young gang out and about, doing whatever they please – sing, dance, or whatever else would draw attention – as they shop. Their sense of freedom, and Jake’s charisma, catches Star’s eyes. Jake offers her a chance to travel the country with him and the rest of the team, going from motel to motel, town to town, trying to sell enough magazines to get by. Star agrees to go with them and embarks on the first big journey of her life. Along the way, maybe she’ll learn an important lesson or two, but Andrea Arnold isn’t the kind of storyteller that’ll tell you if she does; she’s the kind of filmmaker that shows you.

Arnold avoids most narrative conventions. Because of that, her movies tend to truly live and breathe. There’s rarely any doubt they’re authentic. In “American Honey,” she’s even less interested in a three-act journey, although her script and Star’s journey clearly has a beginning, middle and end. Most of “American Honey” feels like the most personal and cinematic home videos you’ve ever seen. There’s always an immediacy and intimacy to what we’re watching, and that’s partially because the actors are so present.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Related Posts

  • No Related Post