Best film of the year? Don’t count on it.
Warning contains moderate forensic accounting.
As a math savant (Ben Affleck) uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise.
An engaging action packed thriller that delivers on the punch ups BUT stumbles on the plot and pace.
Ben Affleck played the stern faced socially awkward maths wiz perfectly. Unemotional, relentless and yet beneath his cold exterior; someone desperate to connect.
The first hour was slow burning BUT engrossing as the film flicked back and forth delving into the mysterious Christian Wolff. Cold, calculated and clever.
We watched him undergo his daily routine from eating with the same cutlery to wearing the same shirt. The questions mounting as he subjected himself to strobe lighting and heavy metal music while testing his sensitivity threshold. The flashbacks teasing mere tidbits of his troubled past.
I’m happy that the actual accounting side of it all was skimmed over. In that small 15 minute segment with stats and figures flying around, my mind felt numb. No matter how enthusiastic Affleck tried to make it.
We get it. People hide money. Well done.
The accounting angle simply established the inner workings of our protagonist. A meticulous mad man intent on seeing out the task in hand.
Thankfully, that was just a introduction for Christian to meet Dana (Anna Kendrick).
Kendrick was actually quite good. A much more subtle performance. I’m normally used to her doing the usual OTT fast talking schtick in everything.
The pair had good chemistry. Their blossoming relationship may have been a little corny BUT the awkward exchanges and glances allowed us to see a different side to the hard man as he grows concerned for the quirky clerk’s safety. Dana’s attempts to make conversation with Christian was cringe-inducing BUT endearing.
The fighting sequences were fast and furious. Affleck used all that Bat-bulk to deliver some well choreographed fist fights and shoot em up gun battles.
It was only when we moved into the second hour that things fell apart at the seams. The pace could have been cut by a good 30 minutes. Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow) was completely unnecessary as Marybeth Medina. The analyst assigned to locating the accountant.
Her subplot was terrible. We endured a good portion of the film watching her regurgitate everything we already knew. She brought nothing to the fold. It didn’t help that she never caught up with the anti-hero at any point. Dismal. As much I’m a fan of J.K. Simmons; despite one revelation, anyone could have played him. If at all!
There were two areas where that time should have been spent. The first being Christian’s actual back story. The flashbacks into his past weren’t explored enough. They may have explained the type of autism that Christian had BUT I wanted more of his childhood. Especially when he had such a ruthless and unsympathetic father.
Robert C. Treveiler (The Mist) was menacing as Christian’s military dad. Refusing to accept his son’s condition and teaching him a harsh life lesson; ““If loud noises and bright lights bother him, he needs more, not less”. Forcing the boy to undergo intense training to adapt and not be a door mat.
I wanted more of this intense relationship BUT the tidbits were few and far between. Only really thrown in when the pace (tragically) dragged.
I also wish we had more of Jon Bernthal’s (The Walking Dead) Brax. A charismatic opponent and a bi-polar opposite of Christian. Not enough of him. Delivering suspense and tension with every unlucky person that had the pleasure of meeting him. A missed presence that was only really brought back for the frantic fiery finale.
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun) and Jean Smart (24) were completely wasted in their feeble roles as Christian’s corporate clients.
BUT it wasn’t all bad. At its best, it was brutal, gripping and tense with another stellar performance from Affleck. It was just a shame that the pace and flawed plot line hampered things. Despite an ultra-violent finale, that delivered a few twists, it ended on such a bum note. Shame.
If you’re a fan of the Bourne movies, then this one is for you.