Loyalties are tested when five friends and former special forces operatives reunite to take down a South American drug lord, unleashing a chain of unintended consequences. (IMDb)
The music is strong, the editing is sharp, and the cinematography is sleek (lots of gorgeous wide shots of natural scenery). Isaac stands out among a solid cast and the plot is consistently engaging in its twisty mix of heist thrills and survival adventure. It’s the drama that doesn’t quite hit home: the characters are inconsistent, the moments of tension aren’t followed up on, and the thematic reflections on the morality of violence are uncomfortably weak (and ultimately undermined in the end).
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)
The adventures of high school and junior high students on the last day of school in May 1976. (IMDb)
The 70s teenage party life theme is certainly captured well and is charming enough, with its pot, booze, cruising, and rockin’ soundtrack, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with its plot-less direction, but when there are no other elements to grab your interest-the characters are surface-y and mostly unlikable (minus the charmingly troubled Mike) and the situations and dialogue are never that funny (frantic pot smell masking scene aside) or dramatic-then it gets stale really quickly.
Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life. (IMDb)
Powerful turns all around deliver scene after scene of raw and potent dialogue, seen most notably in Will and Sean’s widely varied but always intense emotional moments in therapy, but also in each of their secondary relationships with Skylar and Gerald, respectively. Mixed into the moving character studies that arise is thought-provoking discourse on dealing with the past, fulfilling potential, and finding purpose. This rich script is iced nicely with a beautiful acoustic soundtrack.
With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent. (IMDb)
Affleck’s Nick acts suspicious from the get-go here, which feels sudden and anti-climatic; add in awkward cuts and unnaturally quick dialogue and you have a first half-hour that fails to latch on despite a well-crafted atmosphere. Yet led by Pike’s excellent turn a shocking plot grabs a hold from here: First uncertainty abounds as the line between victim and villain is blurred, then definite and bloody revelations follow as the line is made startlingly clear once again in a haunting final act.