Tag Archives: Emily Blunt

Movie reviews: Even with errors, ‘Accountant’ entertains; ‘Girl on the Train’ bumpy ride

Warner Bros.

“The Accountant” (R)

Despite its fascinating subject matter, the new Ben Affleck crime thriller “The Accountant,” for the lack of better words, just doesn’t add up. Convoluted and contrived — if not completely outlandish at times — the film has a fine share of outrageously entertaining moments to make it worthwhile. Ultimately, the film feels like an amalgam of Affleck’s buddy Matt Damon’s roles in “Good Will Hunting” and “Jason Bourne,” even though its far inferior to the former and superior to the latter.

Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, one of the aliases he assumes as an accountant to un-cook the books of the worst criminals in the world, including terrorists, cartels and mobs. Cool, calm and collected, Christian, a man with high-functioning autism, is a math savant, which is why he was brought on board by a multi-billion-dollar robotics firm to find how $65 million went missing.

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Quickly defying the firm’s expectations, Christian discovers the books were being cooked, which leads to the sudden deaths of some of the corporation’s top  executives. But the assassins don’t want to stop there. They want the company’s accountant, Dana (Anna Kendrick), dead, too, as well as Christian.

Unbeknownst to his would-be assassins, Christian was forced by his father into violent training as a super-soldier of sorts as a young child to prepare him to combat the cruelties of the world. His lethal skills are coming in handier than ever protect himself from  and he’s willing to use whatever means necessary to protect himself and Dana from a dogged assassin (Jon Bernthal) who ruthlessly dispatches everyone  connected in the wrong way to his high-profile clients.

Affleck, for as much he is assailed as an actor (in such roles as Batman), is actually pretty good in “The Accountant.” He by no means rises to the level of the autistic character Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for playing in “Rain Man,” but he brings enough subtlety and when the film needs it – physical dominance – to make the role engaging. Underplaying the role most of the time, Affleck and director Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior”) find unexpected opportunities for laughs in many different places.

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Treating Christian’s autism as an indifference with other people as opposed to a disability, “The Accountant” naturally shows how those living with the mysterious brain disorder can and will find a way to thrive in society. Of course, Christian’s ultimate actions as a mercenary of sorts are extreme, and like the mathematical equations he’s trying to figure out, the plot of the “The Accountant” is far too complex to sort out in the film’s 2-hour, 8-minute frame.

Complete with examinations of Christian’s past – as well a subplot involving a veteran U.S. Treasury officer’s (J.K. Simmons) hunt for the math genius – “The Accountant” is simply too confusing to figure out, that is, until, an obligatory flashback scenes conveniently ties up the loose ends you’ve been grasping to have tied up for the duration of the movie.

In the end, “The Accountant” is the sort of movie you’ll want to like, and if you’re willing to take the preposterous plot at face value, you’ll emerge from it at least half-satisfied.  If only more thought would have gone into the examination of Christian’s autism and how it shaped him as an adult and less into the film’s action scenes, “The Accountant” would have ranked much-higher on the numbers scale. The film has a couple great twists, which will have you questioning afterward how you didn’t see them coming.

Lammometer: 6.5 (out of 10)

Listen to Tim’s review of “The Girl on the Train” on the “KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard below, starting at 11 minutes in.

“The Girl on the Train” (R)

Emily Blunt gives the best performance of her career with “The Girl on the Train,” a bumpy adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ best-selling crime novel of the same name.

Though it’s stacked with an excellent cast and a capable director with Tate Taylor (“The Help”), “The Girl” – about a severe alcoholic who suffers a blackout during a violent episode that leaves a woman (Haley Bennett) dead – hobbles along because of its non-linear storyline that hampers the narrative.

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Basically a whodunit thriller with a number of potential murder suspects, Taylor can’t muster enough of a shield to keep the real killer’s identity a secret for too long.  With the air let out of the balloon so soon, “The Girl on the Train” turns from a suspenseful tale into more a waiting game, until the film catches up to the time it’s ready to make the big reveal.

Comparatively,  “The Girl on the Train” is not nearly as good as the similarly-plotted “Gone Girl,” which at least in cinematic form, is far superior. That’s not to say this “Girl” is a bad movie – Blunt’s Oscar-caliber performance alone elevates it far above that designation.

Lammometer: 6.5 (out of 10)

Listen to Tim’s review of “The Girl on the Train” on the “KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard and Michele Tafoya below.

Movie review: ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’

Universal Pictures

By Tim Lammers

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War” (PG-13) 3 stars (out of four)

The stars of “Snow White and the Huntsman” are back – sans Kristen Stewart – in “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” a solid prequel/sequel to the 2012 original that adds Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain to the cast.  Stewart was creatively omitted from the follow-up, which first looks at the origins of Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and the fellow warrior, Sara (Chastain), he grew up with; then skips forward over the events of “Snow White and the Huntsman” as it heads to an epic showdown between Eric & Sara, the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and her sister, the Ice Queen Freya (Blunt), over the all-powerful magic mirror.

While “The Huntsman’s” premise – a mishmash of fairy tale characters from “Frozen,” “Brave” and, of course, “Snow White” – is hardly original, a talented cast (including the hilarious Nick Frost as one of the Huntsman’s dwarf warriors), makes up for the film’s shortcomings. “The Huntsman” is far from perfect, but a crowd-pleasing film nonetheless.

Movie reviews: ‘The Intern,’ ‘Sicario’

Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway in 'The Intern' (photo -- Warner Bros.)

By Tim Lammers

“The Intern” (PG-13) 3 stars (out of four)

“The Intern” is one of those rare movies that, no matter how predictable it is, a talented filmmaker like Nancy Myers at the helm and stars like Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway have you walking away with a big smile on your face. Even with the trailer it’s pretty evident exactly how “The Intern” is going to unfold, but it’s expertly executed.

De Niro stars as Ben, a 70-year-old retired widower, who, while he keeps himself busy, bores easily of retirement. Hoping to make himself useful somewhere, Ben becomes a senior intern at a highly-successful Internet clothing e-tailer, the brainchild of a smart but hyper Jules (Hathaway). Assigned to Jules, Ben soon discovers that the business magnate really has no time for him, until his clear knack for business and his affability around her colleagues makes her realize that his experience in work and life could help her get out of the rut of the company’s growing pains.

A smart comedy that artfully plays to both millennials and adult moviegoers, “The Intern’s” strongest suit comes with not only De Niro and Hathaway’s performances, but wonderful supporting turns by the likes of Adam Devine (“Pitch Perfect” and its sequel), Rene Russo (as an office masseuse who catches Ben’s fancy), Andrew Rannels (as Jules’ business confidant). Linda Lavin turns up, too, and is playfully hilarious as a fellow senior of Ben’s who tries her not-so-subtle best to lure Ben on a date.

De Niro is as brilliant as usual in “The Intern,” demonstrating once again that there’s no genre he can’t play in. A mild-mannered, chivalrous gentleman, De Niro is so effective as Ben that even his subtle facial expressions speak 1,000 words. Hathaway, meanwhile, is completely charming as the exasperated Jules, who’s desperately trying to balance the demands of work life and her suffering personal life as a wife to stay-at-home dad (Anders Holm) and mother to a young daughter (JoJo Kushner).

The biggest struggle Jules faces in “The Intern” is the investors’ insistence to hire a CEO to take her place because she has too much on her plate, at least until its revealed that a personal crisis leaves her facing the biggest dilemma of her life. Ben, of course, tries to guide her through this dilemma, but the outcome – which will have a lot of moviegoers asking, “What would I do?” – may leave a whole lot of people disappointed. It’s the sort of unpopular creative decision Meyers (who also wrote the film) makes that holds “The Intern” – a good film – back from being a great film.

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“Sicario” (R) 3 stars (out of four)

“Prisoners” director Denis Villeneuve tackles another bleak landscape — but with uneven results — with “Sicario,” a take on an American drug enforcement unit’s attempt to dismantle a deadly drug Cartel in Mexico. Unlike “Prisoners,” which left open a tiny bit of mystery, Villeneuve leaves the audience pondering a solution for what seems to be a hopeless situation. Part of the frustration on the moviegoer’s behalf stems from the fact that there’s no real resolve to the Central American drug import problem in real life.

British actress Emily Blunt plays a FBI agent who reluctantly reports to an operation run by a shady CIA agent (Josh Brolin) and ambiguous Department of Defense advisor (Benicio Del Toro). A by-the-book agent, Blunt’s character, Kate, immediately becomes troubled by how Matt (Brolin) and Alejandro (Del Toro) are willing to get their hands dirty to bring the cartel leader down.

With a running time of about two hours, “Sicario”

; (which mean “hitman” in Mexico) somehow feels slow despite a fascinating premise. It’s not exactly predictable, either. Perhaps it’s just that, in the end, they just haven’t gained any ground from a narrative standpoint. It’s too depressingly close to real life.

Reviews: Tim Lammers talks ‘Edge of Tomorrow,’ ‘Fault in our Stars’ on KARE-TV

Tom Cruise in 'Edge of Tomorrow' (photo -- 20th Century Fox)

Tim reviews the sci-fi mind-bending thriller “Edge of Tomorrow” with Diana Pierce on KARE 11 TV (NBC) in Minneapolis.  See the review of the film, starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton, below, as well as a review of the new Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort cancer drama “The Fault in Our Stars.” You can also read the print version of the reviews on BringMeTheNews.com. Also, click HERE to read Tim’s interview with Bill Paxton.

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