Continuing my look back at the films of 2016, here are four mini-reviews of some films that really didn’t make enough of an impression to demand a full review.
The Accountant (dir by Gavin O’Connor)
2016 was a mixed year for Ben Affleck. Batman v. Superman may have been a box office success but it was also such a critical disaster that it may have done more harm to Affleck’s legacy than good. If nothing else, Affleck will spend the rest of his life being subjected to jokes about Martha. While Ben’s younger brother has become an Oscar front runner as a result of his performance in Manchester By The Sea, Ben’s latest Oscar effort, Live By Night, has been released to critical scorn and audience indifference.
At the same time, Ben Affleck also gave perhaps his best performance ever in The Accountant. Affleck plays an autistic accountant who exclusively works for criminals and who has been raised to be an expert in all forms of self-defense. The film’s plot is overly complicated and director Gavin O’Connor struggles to maintain a consistent tone but Affleck gives a really great performance and Anna Kendrick reminds audiences that she’s capable of more than just starring in the Pitch Perfect franchise.
Carnage Park (dir by Mickey Keating)
I really wanted to like Carnage Park, because it was specifically advertised as being an homage to the grindhouse films of the 1970s and y’all know how much I love those! Ashley Bell plays a woman who gets kidnapped twice, once by two bank robbers and then by a psycho named Wyatt (Pat Healy). Healy chases Bell through the desert, hunting her Most Dangerous Game-style. There are some intense scenes and both Bell and Healy are well-cast but, ultimately, it’s just kind of blah.
The Choice (dir by Ross Katz)
The Choice was last year’s Nicholas Sparks adaptation. It came out, as all Nichols Sparks adaptations do, just in time for Valentine’s Day and it got reviews that were so negative that a lot of people will never admit that they actually saw it. Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer play two people who meet, fall in love, and marry in North Carolina. But then Palmer is in a car accident, ends up in a coma, and Walker has to decide whether or not to turn off the life support.
As I said, The Choice got terrible reviews and it’s certainly not subtle movie but it’s actually better than a lot of films adapted from the work of Nicholas Sparks. Walker and Palmer are a likable couple and, at the very least, The Choice deserves some credit for having the courage not to embrace the currently trendy cause of euthanasia. That alone makes The Choice better than Me Before You.
The Legend of Tarzan (dir by David Yates)
Alexander Skarsgard looks good without his shirt on and Samuel L. Jackson is always a fun to watch and that’s really all that matters as far as The Legend of Tarzan is concerned. It’s an enjoyable enough adventure film but you won’t remember much about it afterward. Christoph Waltz is a good actor but he’s played so many villains that it’s hard to get excited over it anymore.