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Rating History

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
1 day ago via Flixster

If this second Jack Reacher movie is good for anything it's to prove that Tom Cruise is indeed just as much a movie star as he's ever been. Cruise, who has been on something of a roll lately when it comes to action spectacles, has taken some time off from being Ethan Hunt and those impossible missions he tends to embark upon in order to return to the simpler, more straightforward drifter that is Jack Reacher. There's nothing wrong with this choice, nothing at all-in fact, the 2012 Jack Reacher film that was based on the long-running Lee Child's book series was a hard boiled, no frills, balls to the wall action romp that felt practical and logical in every fiber of its being. There was an authenticity to the action and crunch to the violence that made it all feel rather congenital to who this stoic titular character really was. We didn't get much past the solid facade, but the movie itself would give us plenty of mood and attitude in order to fill in the gaps. That Christopher McQuarrie film would take Cruise away from the extraordinary stunts and instead forced him to keep his feet on the ground and running in the vein that we've come to affectionately endure Tom Cruise running in. 2013's Jack Reacher never tried to be anything it wasn't and while this sentiment could be echoed for Never Go Back in all honesty the sequel doesn't try to be much of anything at all. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is so middle of the road predictable that by the time an action scene is loaded and ready to play out there is such a disassociation between the story and Cruise simply strutting around doing his thing that it's hard to care about or invest in either. Not only does Never Go Back feel rather pedestrian in its story and acting though, but the execution couldn't feel more lazy or uninspired either. Helmed by Edward Zwick who previously directed Cruise in the sweeping and rather stunning The Last Samurai I expected more from the duo when it came to delivering simple goods that could be smoldered down into basic formula with only a dose of skill and ingenuity thrown in when it came time for Reacher to dispatch with a few bad guys. Instead, what Zwick and Cruise deliver this time around is the epitome of "just good enough" with that only being more of a disappointment when considering the talent and thus the potential involved. It may be that I watched this on a large format screen, but there are certain action sequences and, even worse, standard dialogue scenes that look as if they belong on an old tube TV. In fact, sans the cell phones, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back very much feels like an action thriller that was produced in 1994 with no higher ambition other than being considered for the long flight home.

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Certain Women
Certain Women (2016)
3 days ago via Flixster

Certain Women is my introduction to the much celebrated writer/director Kelly Reichardt who has crafted such films as Wendy and Lucy and Night Moves. Reichardt is said to craft these methodically paced character studies that exist more for their introspective takes on the lives of their characters than anything resembling plot. Minimalist, if you will. Reichardt seemingly adapts many of her films from short stories or collections of short stories. And while I've yet to see any previous films from the filmmaker including her much heralded 2010 feature Meek's Cutoff I don't know that her latest necessarily urges me to go back and see what all the fuss is about. That said, Certain Women is certainly intriguing though the reasons for such interest fall more on the befuddling side of things rather than the promising. It is easy to sell the minimal approach as being more insightful and more telling simply out of the convenience of letting the audience do more of the heavy lifting, but some of the time keeping in line with the minimal approach is simply a substitute for there not being much to say in the first place. It's not hard to appreciate that Reichardt has approached these tales of three individual women in three different stages of their lives that only overlap in the most subtle of ways in an even more subtler fashion, but it is only by virtue of the focus shifting from one story to the next that the film doesn't become a complete and utter bore. And it would were it left in the hands of certain characters and beside the fact this is the point of those certain characters' profiles-documenting the monotony and lack of anything spectacular or interesting occurring in their lives-the film isn't ever able to come up with anything new or profound enough to say about the mundanity of daily life or the foibles that eventually bring us all around to the same level playing field as human beings to be noteworthy in its own right. I can understand and again even appreciate that this is very much a film that speaks to the complex and misunderstood experiences of the female in our male-driven society, but as a product that is intended to convince me of the discrepancies and double standards females deal with on a daily basis that males might not even consider I took away very little by way of enlightenment. There is a fine line between being understated and simply being uninteresting and unfortunately Certain Women skirts that line too often to fall on that minimal, but effective side of things.

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The Accountant
4 days ago via Flixster

In director Gavin O'Connor's (Warrior) latest film, The Accountant, the films titular character and our protagonist is one that operates on the high end of the autism spectrum. The character is a math savant who has utilized his high-functioning skills to cook the books for several high-profile criminal clients that would seemingly stack the character's pockets, but may also serve as a threat to Christian Wolff and his legitimate, small-town CPA office. It's a hell of a way to set-up intrigue around a character while simultaneously bringing attention to those who function a little different from what society considers to be the norm especially when the film makes such a character as much a superhero as they do here. As Wolff, Ben Affleck is not only a genius when it comes to numbers though, but he's been nurtured into something of a killing machine by his militaristic father (Robert C. Treveiler). The film then combines these elements of Wolff's personality while mixing in a U.S. Treasury investigation led by the soon to retire Ray King (J.K. Simmons) and his forced apprentice of sorts in Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) that leads Wolff to take on something of a legitimate client in a major robotics company run by John Lithgow. This plotline also introduces us to the obligatory love interest in Anna Kendrick's Dana, but mostly The Accountant is about Affleck kicking ass and counting numbers with the amount of plot Bill Dubuque's (The Judge) screenplay attempts to pile on only serving to take away from the more interesting character study that's trying to peek out from behind all the storylines. And while the film does indeed suffer from something of an identity crisis while at the same time playing into the fact it knows fully what it is by embracing the inherent goofiness of an assassin accountant it never stops being entertaining. Even as the plot jumps from Wolff's main mission to that of the Treasury investigation, and onto the third party tracker embodied by the always charismatic Jon Bernthal and back to Wolff there is always something to keep us invested even if what is doing so feels scattershot. This would typically be a detriment to a film given it signals a lack of trust in the lead characters ability to sustain audience engagement, but under O'Connor's steady hand The Accountant makes one feel just satisfied enough by the time they're done consuming it without actually offering anything of nutritional value.

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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
9 days ago via Flixster

Yes, Miss. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is one of those young adult adaptations where a seemingly normal kid who possesses zero self-confidence comes to learn that he's special in some capacity. That he is in fact "the chosen one" and that without his presence an evil plan couldn't possibly be thwarted. Director Tim Burton's (Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) adaptation of author Ransom Riggs' best-selling novel is indeed that type of movie and there is no eluding those comparisons. What allows this seeming cookie-cutter product to come off a different conveyor belt than some of its peers though is the level of uniqueness with which it is operating in. Riggs' novel plays by the conventions of the genre, sure, but there are so many fresh and interesting ideas brought to the table that it is easy to see past the rather standard narrative beats. It is all about the journey rather than the destination, right? If one has little trouble buying into that saying than they should have no trouble finding a point in which they can immerse themselves in the world of Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and her peculiars. While I can admit to the fact the adaptation (penned by Jane Goldman of Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman fame) has a few shortcomings in not giving a few of its exceptionally talented cast members enough to do while sporting other scenes in which the exposition is far too glaring the overall product we are delivered is one of wonder and curiosity. I can only imagine going into the film having not read the source material that the plot could come off somewhat convoluted-especially in the obligatory action-heavy third act-but more times than not Goldman finds interesting ways to speak around the necessities of the plot which are only aided by the visual flair of Burton who finds himself firmly in his own wheelhouse with this world. From the overly dark and dreary opening credits sequence to the way in which it cuts abruptly to sunny Florida where Burton once again chastises the slums of suburbia it is clear Burton is back in a field where he feels his creative juices are free to flow. Essentially-the guy can do whatever he chooses and it will likely work in this alternate reality where what we come to be treated to is a fully realized world with special powers giving way to numerous adventures that is only halted from time to time by the not fully realized characters that populate it.

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