The unexpected intro with “Toxic” followed by a big action movie “jump away from explosion” sequence is pretty fun, but the flashback story that follows mostly disappoints, with forced backstories (see dad issues x2), tired retreads of old plot lines (“It has to be a competition!”), and constant fishing for new filler (see the barely there romance and Bella baby). Amy’s still funny and the music’s still good though, so it remains decently engaging through to the nice wrap-up ending.
What the fuck’s up with the expository announcers? Asshole John is only countered by supposed straight-counterpart Gail half the time, so we’re left with a lot of just straight up offensive jokes in addition to the already strange amount of cultural stereotypes and fat phobia. The core of the film, fortunately, is just friendship, music, and montages, and it somehow manages to transcend its surface cheese to reach some pretty beautiful places (see the found sound around the fire, final song).
As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise. (IMDb)
The enigmatic accountant both brilliant and bad-ass is a unique protagonist and a three-perspective approach (hero, villain, cop) offers a well-rounded study (though its occasional sentimentality feels forced–see the hotel scene). It doesn’t work quite as well in the plot delivery, as the film feels a little scattered up until the third act overloaded with twists (albeit great bow-tying ones), but its ambition should be lauded (as an aside, so should its great cinematography and soundtrack).
7.5/10 (Really Good)
Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school’s all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition. (IMDb)
The plot is a perfect parallel of any other competition-based storyline, so it’s pretty predictable, right down to its requisite romance, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t still a fun flick: Wilson’s Fat Amy is odd and hilarious and leads a great group of secondary characters (DeVine’s douche is another highlight) surrounding Kendrick’s music-mashing Beca, and the numerous a cappella numbers are excellent (keep an eye out for Kendrick’s impressive cup stacking solo song).
A former Weather Underground activist goes on the run from a journalist who has discovered his identity. (IMDb)
A stacked cast does not disappoint here; LaBeouf is particularly electric as the savvy journalist uncovering for us a fascinating web of former radicals still on the lamb. The past-present element is compelling and produces a refreshingly old and textured cast of characters, while the cat-and-mouse game is exciting without resorting to cheap action. The underlying themes of truth and justice aren’t given quite enough oomph but the movie remains an engaging thriller that looks great to boot.