Ben Affleck crunches numbers and bad guys in amusing action film The Accountant, while Tom Ford’s psychological thriller has plenty of gloss but not enough grit
The Accountant (15) ***
Nocturnal Animals (15) ***
Light Between The Oceans (12A) **
A Street Cat Named Bob (12A) **
You’ve Been Trumped Too (PG) ***
Rain Man meets Batman in The Accountant, an enjoyably silly action movie starring Ben Affleck as an on-the-spectrum forensic accountant who doubles up as a secret vigilante. If that sounds like an outré set-up for a movie with this title, director Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) at least has the sense to run with its oddball premise – or at least he does until the film demands he justify the character’s elaborate backstory with a plot revelation you can see coming a mile off. At this point the film descends into a guns-blazing action film, but before then there’s fun to be had watching Affleck’s character, Christian Wolff, risk his own lone-wolf status by becoming protector to Anna Kendrick’s nervy accountant, Dana. She’s responsible for flagging up financial improprieties at the firm he’s been brought in to audit. For reasons that never quite become clear, they soon find themselves targeted by a team of mercenaries who discover to their cost that Christian is as handy with a rifle as he is with a spreadsheet. This leads to some amusing interplay between Affleck and Kendrick, particularly because the script doesn’t try to force them into an awkward love story. Which is just as well: there’s already a surfeit of plot and supporting characters to cram in. As such, The Accountant may never quite add up, but it’s hardly meant as taxing viewing and its flaws certainly don’t detract too much from the overall enjoyment.
The sophomore effort from fashion designer-turned-director Tom Ford (A Single Man), Nocturnal Animals fancies itself as a glossy psychological thriller about the way everyday relationship cruelties can manifest themselves in art. Too bad, then, that its overwrought nature means the film frequently teeters on the brink of ridiculousness. Amy Adams plays Susan, a wealthy gallery owner trapped in an opulent hell of her own making. Dissatisfied with her career and unhappily married to a wealthy philanderer (Armie Hammer), she receives an unpublished manuscript from her ex-husband Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hitherto aspiring novelist who has – according to the accompanying note – finally found the courage to write something personal. As she begins to read it, the action plays out on screen, at which point Ford transforms the movie into a pulpy, No Country For Old Men-style thriller about a weak-seeming man (also played Gyllenhaal) failing to protect his wife and daughter from a psychopath who drives them off the road in the middle of the Texan desert. Intercut with these scenes are flashbacks to Susan and Tony as young graduate students, which Ford uses to build up a portrait of how Susan’s insecurities and gnawing dissatisfaction with Tony torpedoed their marriage. We’re clearly supposed to draw a parallel here between the violence in Tony’s book and the emotional violence that Susan has casually inflicted upon him. Alas, Ford’s approach makes it hard to take this as seriously as he clearly wants us to. The thriller elements have genuine gut-wrenching power, but everything around them is comically severe.
Still, at least it’s entertaining, unlike The Light Between Oceans. Written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, this would-be romantic epic is devoid of the rawness that made his previous films (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines) so compelling. It stars Michael Fassbender as a First World War veteran who takes a job as lighthouse keeper off the coast of Australia. Despite craving solitude, he marries a local woman (Alicia Vikander) whose subsequent inability to have children threatens their happiness – until fate intervenes in the form of a shipwrecked boat carrying a dead man and a crying infant. Their decision to raise the child as their own has wide-reaching consequences years down the line, particularly after they learn who their daughter’s real mother is. Though the cast (which includes Rachel Weisz) does some good work, it’s too controlled to rip you apart the way a film like this should.
Based on the true story of a homeless drug addict who turned his life around after adopting a stray cat, there’s a genuinely uplifting true story behind A Street Cat Named Bob. Sadly this film version – based on James Bowen’s best-selling memoir of the same name – it too twee to do it justice, surrounding James (played by Luke Treadaway) with kooky supporting characters and frequently deploying unwatchable cat point-of-view shots to let us see the world through his feline saviour’s eyes.
With the US election imminent, You’ve Been Trumped Too finds documentary maker Anthony Baxter returning to Donald Trump’s luxury golf resort in Aberdeenshire in an effort to show American voters that his impact on the local area – as documented in You’ve Been Trumped and its quasi follow-up, A Dangerous Game – is merely a microcosm of what might follow in the US should he be elected. At the heart of the film are the ongoing sagas of farmer Michael Forbes and his elderly mother, Molly, whose water supply was cut off when construction work on the course was undertaken. Though Baxter recycles a lot of material from the first two films, he gets some interesting results by flying Forbes to the Republican National Convention to talk to Trump’s grassroots supporters. Mostly, though, the film’s narrow focus makes it feel this time out as if Baxter is going big game hunting with a water pistol, which conversely makes the Trump Organisation’s recent threat to sue any cinema planning to screen it seem like an attempt to kill a fly with an elephant gun. ■