Desierto - Review

R | 1h 34min | Drama, Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle

*In theaters October 14th 2016 *

SynopsisA group of people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States encounter a man who has taken border patrol duties into his own racist hands.

Review: I have seen at least one other film this year that is very similar to the new thriller, DESIERTO. So similar in fact that I wondered if this was a remake. Desierto stands out in the area of acting and cinematography so although not an original story it at least offers something.

When a border crossing takes an unscheduled detour a small band of illegals find themselves in a cat and mouse game of survival. Sam (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has serious issues with people being on his land. He has no faith in the border patrol and inflicts his own version of sadistic justice. 

Morgan plays the racist land owner with a scary calm that isn't twisted or demented; a fact that makes him even scarier. This guy could be sitting down at your holiday meals with you and the family. Granted he is the relative everyone steers clear of or talks candidly about after he leaves. But he is just a man with deep rooted opinions about how things should be. 

On the other side of the metaphorical fence you have Moises (played brilliantly by Gael García Bernal). He is the one with the level head and a heart for what is right. His interaction with those around him is sincere and compassionate. You are endeared to him from the beginning and Bernal is able to lock you in to his character. 

Writer/director Jonás Cuarón does a solid job of keeping politics out of his story and seems focused on creating a top notch thriller. Not sure he succeeds but he did try. The issue is more the writing than the directing. The film looks stunning and the intensity is heightened by the framing and shots. But the writing is so thin that you get all bone and no meat. You are introduced to some solid characters and can't wait to peel back layers and know them more. But you never do. All you get is one intense moment after another with nothing to hold it all together. Yes you still want the innocents to survive but you quickly forget why. 

This is a film that is hard to promote. The look and sound beg to be seen on the big screen but the overall film is not really worth the box office ticket price. It would be a great renter and probably enjoyed more. If all you want are visuals and a few moments of intensity then go for broke and do the big screen. But don't say I didn't warn you. 

DESIERTO is rated R for strong violence and language. It is a vicious adult film and not for the kiddos or the nervous lot. Kudos to both Morgan and Bernal for keeping up their end of the bargain. They each earned their pay on this one. Sadly the writing let them and the audience as a whole down. I give it 2 out of 5 water bowls. I wanted the entire movie to be as good as the first 15 minutes. 


The Accountant - Review

R | 2h 8min | Action, Crime, Drama 
Review - Matt Mungle

*In theaters October 14th 2016 *

SynopsisAs 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.

Review: THE ACCOUNTANT is an intriguing and entertaining character who would be fun to watch on a week to week basis. Sort of Rainman meets Jason Bourne. The films high caliber action and pinpoint acting make up for the blurred story line and crater sized plot holes. Plus there are just enough unpredictable moments to overshadow those moments you saw coming a mile away. 

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) has not had an easy life. Diagnosed early on with an acute case of autism his military father trained him to overcome his situation by any means possible. Now he is a brilliant mathematician and accountant for  many criminal organizations; secluded in a socially inept body. When he is hired by a robotics corporation to uncover some odd money trails he discovers that he isn't the only one interested in the company's finances. He must rely on his "skills" in order to finish the job he started. 

Affleck does a perfect job of bringing both of his characters personality traits to light. He has to fully engage with the beautiful mind of Christian without shying away from the violent engagements. The element that marries them together is the eyes. Regardless of the task there is an extreme focus in the gaze. You understand that his thoughts are moving at warp speed while on the outside he is cool and calculating. You aren't completely sure of his motivations but you know that there has to be a purpose to every action he takes. 

When you throw Dana (Anna Kendrick) into the mix things really get interesting. Dana is a young, energetic, talkative accountant at the robotics firm and makes Wolff incredibly uncomfortable. He has a hard time understanding or recognized emotion much less using it to converse with some one like her. It is humorous to watch him when she is around and Kendrick was a good casting decision. Granted it is the same Anna we see most of the time but we like it. 

There are several intersecting story lines in this film and one branch of that is the treasury department that is interested in Wolff. Led by Director Raymond King (J.K Simmons) and agent Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) the task force is trying to figure out who he is and what his connections are to these profile criminals. Like most of the story this plot line serves a purpose but is not completely thought out. 

THE ACCOUNTANT is a top level crime drama. The character and performance of Affleck make this one to see. Wolff is someone you would tune in to watch each week on a well written TV show. His backstory and motives deserve a chance to shine a bit more. Plus his interaction with people like Dana would help peel away the layers of social awkwardness. You want to see him succeed in the areas he struggles in while watching him dominate where he is most comfortable. 

The film is rated R for strong violence and language throughout. It is an adult film intended for older audiences. Other than the very strong violence (which you need in a film of this nature) the rest of the content is handled subtly and with taste. I give it 3 out of 5 strobe lights. Worth the box office ticket price and one I will watch several times over.