Review – The Accountant


A gifted mathematician starts uncool into the books for a new client as the Treasury Department closes in on him.Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a man with a better affinity for numbers than people. On the surface, it would seem that he is your standard run-of-the-mill accountant, but dig a little deeper an you’ll find that he does some freelance work fixing the finances of some of the world’s biggest organised crime rings. He takes on a legitimate client in the shape of Living Robotics just as the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division headed up by Ray King (JK Simmons) begins to investigate his actions. However, as Christian sheds some light on the missing finances of his latest customer, he finds that not everything is quite what it first appeared to be.

So I finally got round to watching The Accountant this afternoon, and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s one of those proper action films that we have struggled to come across of late, but has bit of a twist as it’s main protagonist is somewhere on the autistic spectrum. This was something that provided a fresher take on a genre that you could say has been worn fairly thin with some diabolical releases in recent years.

I had been looking forward to seeing Ben Affleck take on the role of Christian Wolff since I saw the trailer for this film months ago. I had faith that he could get it right and finally redeem himself after fans all over the world lost their confidence in him after watching a film that came out earlier on in 2016. Admittedly, he didn’t provide the performance that I thought he would – I had expected something a couple of rungs down from Rain Man, but instead I was presented with someone who appeared to only suffer from occasional lapses in private. After thinking about it a bit, however, I think this worked far better than what I was expecting would have done, and so hats off to Affleck for what was a great performance.

The Accountant had a solid storyline with a couple of little treats right towards the end that kept me interested right until the credits started rolling. It was nice that the film didn’t get lost in a convoluted plot that was way too ambitious for it, something that I think some action thrillers have fallen foul of in the past, especially during the last few years. The fact that this story was relatively easy to keep pace with made the film all the more enjoyable, which I think some filmmakers would do well to bear in mind at times.

That being said, there were a couple of characters that I must say didn’t feel totally necessary. Anna Kendrick as Dana Cummings was good, don’t get me wrong, but the film could have survived without her. It just felt as though the writers had tried to force something into the story that wasn’t needed. I think I would have much preferred it if they had come up with some other reason for why Christian was intent on pursuing this case to the bitter end. Alas, for all it’s other saving graces, I can’t complain too much.

Overall, The Accountant is a good action film that would be ideal for a night in on the sofa after a hard week at work. It didn’t require too much thinking, was terrifically entertaining, and had some decent performances to boot. I’d say order a takeaway and turn in for the night – it would be time well spent. 

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Tuesday Top Ten – TV Shows That Aired In 2016

While I may have watched more films in the cinema in 2016 than I have done any other year, I also found plenty to watch on the small screen last year as well. In no particular order, here is my rundown of my top ten TV shows that aired new episodes in 2016. Any older series that I may also have seen last year will not be featuring on this list – that’s for another day…

10. Rillington Place


This period drama that took a look at the murders committed by John Reginald Christie at 10 Rillington Place during the 1940s and 50s did really well in my book. Tim Roth was magical as the lead character, and was supported well by Samantha Morton as his wife Ethel. I really enjoyed this three-part mini-series, and would certainly recommend it to people.

9. The Night Manager


It seems a long time has passed since this TV adaptation of John Le Carré’s novel of the same name was on our screens. It provided us with Sunday night viewing that BBC1 hasn’t been able to match since it finished. Since then, the show has aired all over the world I would imagine, and has won numerous Golden Globes. I clearly wasn’t the only one impressed with this one.

8. Silent Witness S19


Seeing as it’s been on our screens since 1996, I don’t think you need me to tell you too much about Silent Witness. Obviously I haven’t been watching since the very beginning (I wasn’t born then), but it is a show I’ve looked forward to seeing every year since I started watching about four or five seasons ago. I have no real explanation for why I enjoy this show so much – there are a number of reasons for why I love it as much as I do, that’s all I can say.

7. Peaky Blinders S3


I got into this show as it started it’s second season and it became a favourite straight away. The excessive violence and creative use of language are always something I enjoy seeing, but there are other things that Peaky Blinders has always had going for it. Firstly, we get to see Cillian Murphy in the lead as the delightful Tommy Shelby, and then we get a whole host of big names alongside him – Tom Hardy and Sam Neill are just a couple. The performances are brilliant, the sets are tremendous, and overall, the show is a winner from start to finish. 

6. The Five 


With a story that came from the mind of acclaimed thriller writer Harlen Coben, The Five sounded promising. This was another mini-series that was very impressive. The story was phenomenal, and I, nor anyone else who watched it with me, had a clue about who did what right until the very end. What more could you want from a crime thriller?

5. The People Vs. O.J. Simpson


I don’t really know what reception this was met with. What I do know is I was really looking forward to seeing it, and when it came to sitting down and watching it, The People Vs. O.J. Simpson went way above my expectations. Some of the performances here – specifically Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clarke, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran – were mind-glowingly good. This one didn’t focus so much on the person who may or may not have committed the crime, but more on the drama that unfolded in the courtroom and lawyer’s offices behind the scenes. Compelling stuff!

4. Ray Donovan S4


Another show i got into as the second season began was Ray Donovan, and as I write this I am waiting to find out where season five will pick up. This most recent season of the drama that revolves around the life and work of L.A. fixer, Ray Donovan, was, in my eyes, the best to date. Ray’s work and family life clashed this time round, which raised the stakes massively and made it unbearable waiting for a new episode each week.

3. Ripper Street S4


One of my favourite shows to ever exist is Ripper Street. When BBC cancelled it after season two, I signed every petition going and even wrote a letter to the head of whatever to tell them what a terrible decision they had made, and when it was announced that the show was being decommissioned for seasons three, four and five… well, you can imagine my reaction. Season four was fantastic as always, but dealt us a blow at the end that I’m still not quite over, and I don’t think I ever will be.

2. The Missing S2


The highly anticipated second season of The Missing arrived late in 2016 and was actually far better than it’s predecessor. I hadn’t been that excited for it, but was pleasantly surprised by what was actually presented to me. The story was excellent and with some real British acting heavyweights in two of the lead roles, plus Tchèky Karyo returning as Julien Baptiste, the performances weren’t half bad either.

1. The Night Of


One of the biggest, most talked about shows from last year arrived at some point around September or October I think. The Night Of won me over when I saw the face of The Wire‘s Michael Kenneth Williams in the preview, and I’m glad I saw him then because I may otherwise not have watched the show. A perfect example of what can be achieved with solid storytelling and acting is one of the greatest compliments I could give this show, and with talks of season two starting before it had even finished this one, I am looking forward to it’s return.

So there’s my list of my top ten shows that aired in 2016. Some great newcomers, the return of old favourites and a few pleasant surprises would be a great way to describe last year’s TV for me. How about you? What are your thoughts on these shows? What would have featured on your list? As always, let me know! It’s nice hearing what you guys think.

Review – April Flowers


After finding a journal, a young woman embarks on a quest to find it’s owner, but becomes hopeful that she may also find something else along the way.When April (Celina Jade) discovers a lost journal on the subway, she has a flick through the pages in the hope it provides her with some clue as to who the owner is. She gets more than she bargained for, however, as she realises that the owner of the book is a fantastic but perhaps troubled writer. She very quickly becomes obsessed with the book, it’s contents and her visions of the owner, and is intent on returning the journal to the person it belongs to. As the the search unfolds, April continues to build up the fantasy in her head, to an extent that may jeopardise very real relationships that already exist in her own life.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of April Flowers. It certainly isn’t the type of film I would usually go in for, and there were elements of it that I definitely wasn’t a fan of. That being said, however, there were aspects of the film that I thought were interesting and brought up questions about human nature and how we define things in life.

The lead performance here massively helped the film in getting it’s ideas across. Celina Jade portrayed April with an air of uncertainly that I think is within all of us to an extent. She was torn between the relationship she had with Jared, played by Jon Fletcher, and what could have been with the journal’s owner. It was a performance that everyone can relate to in some way or another, and this made it very easy to get on the same level as Jade’s character.

Perhaps my favourite performance in this film came from the actress playing April’s best friend, Laura. She may not have had the largest role in the story, but when she did make an appearance, it flowed very well. She is a very natural actress, and her character had a vital part in providing April with perspective on the situation she found herself in. 

I have to admit that I wasn’t the greatest fan of the style of this film. The narration provided by Helen Stern didn’t feel necessary. This would have been something that worked far better for me had the narration been done by the same person playing the protagonist here i.e. Celina Jade. I just didn’t really know who the narrator was supposed to represent. If it were up to me, I’d have preferred that April narrated her own story as if she were writing in her own journal as it would have fitted in better with the framework of the film.

I mentioned at the beginning that the film raised a number of questions about many things that we’re all quite familiar with. The way it drew attention to the way we view decision-making, especially when it comes to relationships and strong emotions, was something that really resonated with me. We’ve all been in situations where we could go either way and still worry about what the outcome could mean for us, and this film just seemed to capture the difficulties that surround these moments with ease.

All in all, April Flowers was not my type of film, but when I looked at what it was trying to say, I found a lot that I could relate to, which did it a lot of favours. There are performances here by actors who I think show a lot of potential, and the same thing can be said for the film’s writer and director, Christopher Tedrick, as he did such a great job of exploring something that is a complex part of human nature.

Review – Black Mirror Season 1


An anthology series focusing on the darker aspects of life and technology.Normally, I would go a little further into detail about the plot about whatever film or TV show I’m about to review, but that’s kind of difficult to do with Black Mirror, or at least that’s what I’m led to believe after viewing season one of Charlie Brooker’s show. Each episode from the pilot tells a completely different story about completely different people, and if I’m completely honestly with you, I can’t really be bothered with explaining the plot from each of these three stories. I would usually try to go above and beyond for you guys, but I’m currently living hand-to-mouth with my reviews and if I plan on getting them out on the days I intend to… well, you’re starting to get the picture.  

Anyway, back to Black Mirror – I initially wasn’t sure about this one. It was homework for a podcast episode and so that’s the reason I watched it. I have to admit that, given the nature of the show’s narrative style, I was more in love with some episodes than I was others. However, the show has done enough to spark my interest and to make me want to stick with it through it’s other seasons.

The episodes I have seen were host to a plethora of talented British performances, and provided a good insight as to what audiences here have to look forward to seeing on their screens as a decent number of these performances came from up-and-coming actors. A particularly honourable mention goes to Daniel Kaluuya who I had only previously seen in Sicario (a good place to have only previously seen him in though). He played the lead in 15 Million Merits, the second story of the season, and was tremendous to watch. It was a stand-out for me, and kept my attention through the episode that, I felt, was the weakest of the three I’ve seen.

The way this show is written makes each episode feel more like a short movie, which is a good thing in a way as if you’re someone who doesn’t consistently have a lot of time to sit and follow a TV show from start to finish, you don’t lose where you are with a story that runs throughout. Of course, this has it’s problems as well. If you’re someone who likes the draw of a story that runs through a show, this show can be tough to sit down and get into from episode to episode, or at least that’s what I found. Because there was nothing that could ever be left on a cliff-hanger to carry over to the next episode, I found it hard to dedicate time to go back and watch the next episode each time I finished the one I was on. Personally I prefer something bigger to get my teeth into, but that’s just the sort of thing I like.

On the whole, I can’t say I would 100% recommend Black Mirror to anyone just yet. The show has done enough to gain my curiosity, but I’ll need to see more before I can come to any sort of solid judgement about it. Somehow, I just don’t think it’s my cup of tea, but I’ll persevere and see what happens.

Review – Hell Or High Water

A divorced father and his loose cannon older brother resort to desperate measures in a bid to save the family ranch in West Texas.

Following the death of their mother, unemployed oil and gas worker Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and his ex-con older brother Tanner (Ben Foster) begin to rob banks so as not to lose her ranch to the Texas Midland Bank. Meanwhile, ageing Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) is nearing retirement, but is intent on seeing out the case with his partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham). Together, they try to figure out the well-intentioned bank robbers’ next moves, resulting in an intense showdown.

One of my most anticipated films from what is now last year was Hell Or High Water. The trailer had taken my fancy a while before it had been released in cinemas, but as it was I never made the trip. Well, I finally got to see the film the other day, and I have to say it was well worth the wait. It didn’t quite turn out to be what I had expected, although what that was I’m not quite sure even now after watching the film. What I do know, however, is that I was very impressed by what I saw.

As good as I thought Chris Pine was here, I’m going to refrain from talking about him for the simple reason that people will only read so many words before jumping ship, so I would rather focus on the two ‘supporting’ actors in this review. Ben Foster was excellent as Tanner Howard. He gave an enthralling performance as the ex-con who you kind of felt was going robbing the banks with his brother to make up for all the time he spent in prison, unable to help care for their mother. So many people are talking about awards for this film, and who will get those awards. I am not overly familiar with Foster’s work, but would personally love to see him gain all the recognition he deserves for the stellar work he put in here.

Jeff Bridges was that other ‘supporting’ actor who is the other contender for those prestigious awards I would think. It was another very strong performance in a film that really did consist of some masterful acting. He portrayed Texas Ranger who had seen it all and was now facing the prospect of retirement and not looking forward to it – a character not too dissimilar to that of Tommy Lee Jone’s Ed Tom Bell in No Country For Old Men, another contemporary western that I would highly recommend. Again, it was a display of terrific acting that fully deserves every award it is nominated for should the powers that be decide Bridges was the supporting actor here.

This film is one that you savour as you watch it. It is a wonderful, brooding slow-burner of a film, and this allows you fully take in every part of what is put in front of you. The dialogue and the way it was delivered by the people it was given to was a wondrous thing. The landscapes captured by the cinematographers were breath-taking. There isn’t really a part of this film I could fault, if I’m completely honest with you, and I think that really says all anyone needs to know, because if there’s something for me to complain about, I don’t tend to be backwards in coming forwards about it, do I?

Overall, Hell or High Water is a beautifully made contemporary western that sits proudly amongst many of the westerns that have been made of late. It is easily one of the better ones that are leading the resurgence in the genre, and if this is how filmmakers mean to go on, they have my full support. This would be a great film particularly for people around my age, who perhaps have avoided westerns for being a dated style of film. The contemporary sub-genre is one that hold a lot of promise in my opinion, and is an excellent gateway to the other, more classically formulated films, as this film proves very well.