REVIEW: THE GHOST (AKA The Ghost Writer)

CAST

Ewan McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Pierce Brosnan (The World’s End)
Olivia Williams (An Education)
Kim Cattrall (Big Trouble In Little China)
Timothy Hutton (The Dark Half)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
Robert Pugh (Game of Thrones)
Eli Wallach (The Godfather – Part II)

Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)A British ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) is hired by the publishing firm Rhinehart, Inc. to complete the autobiography of former Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). His predecessor and Lang’s aide, Mike McAra, has recently died in an apparent drowning accident. The writer travels to Old Haven on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where Lang and his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) are staying, along with Lang’s personal assistant (and implied mistress), Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall). Amelia forbids the writer from taking McAra’s manuscript outside, emphasising that it is a security risk.Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)Shortly after the writer’s arrival, former Foreign Secretary Richard Rycart (Robert Pugh) accuses Lang of authorising the illegal seizure of suspected terrorists and handing them over for torture by the CIA, a possible war crime. Lang faces prosecution by the International Criminal Court unless he stays in the US (or one of the few other countries that does not recognise the court’s jurisdiction). While Lang is in Washington, the writer finds items in McAra’s room suggesting he might have stumbled across a dark secret. Among them is an envelope containing photographs and a phone number the writer discovers is Rycart’s.Pierce Brosnan in The Ghost Writer (2010)During a bike ride, the writer encounters an old man (Eli Wallach) who tells him the current couldn’t have taken McAra’s body from the ferry where he disappeared to the beach where it was discovered. He also reveals a neighbour saw flashlights on the beach the night McAra died, but later fell down the stairs and went into a coma. Later, Ruth admits to the writer Lang had never been very political, and until recently always took her advice. When he tells her the old man’s story, she suddenly rushes out into the rainy night to “clear her head.” Upon returning, she reveals Lang and McAra had argued the night before the latter’s death, and the ghost writer and Ruth have a one night stand while Adam is away.The next morning, the writer takes the BMW X5[5] McAra used on his last journey. Unable to cancel the pre-programmed directions on the car’s sat-nav, he decides to follow them. He arrives in Belmont at the home of Professor Paul Emmett (Tom Wilkinson). Emmett denies anything more than a cursory acquaintance with Lang, despite the writer showing him two pictures of the pair among photographs found in McAra’s possessions, as well as another on the wall of Emmett’s study. When the writer tells Emmett the sat-nav proves McAra visited him the night he died, Emmett denies meeting McAra and becomes evasive. The writer leaves, and successfully eludes a car that is pursuing him. He boards the ferry back to Martha’s Vineyard, but when he sees the pursuit car drive aboard, he flees the boat at the last moment and checks into a small motel by the ferry dock.Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams in The Ghost Writer (2010)With no one else to turn to, the writer redials Rycart’s number, asking for help. While waiting, the writer does research on Emmett and links his think tank to a military contractor. He also finds leads connecting Emmett to the CIA. When Rycart arrives, he reveals McAra gave him documents linking Lang to so-called “torture flights,” where terrorist suspects were placed on private jets owned by Emmett’s company, to be tortured while airborne. Rycart further claims that McAra found new evidence, which he wrote about in the “beginning” of the manuscript. The men cannot, however, find anything in the early pages. The writer discusses Emmett’s relationship with Lang, while Rycart recounts how Lang’s decisions as Prime Minister uniformly benefited US interests. When the writer is summoned to accompany Lang on his return flight by private jet, he confronts Lang and accuses him of being a CIA agent recruited by Emmett. Lang derides his suggestions.Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, and Olivia Williams in The Ghost Writer (2010)Upon leaving the aircraft, Lang is assassinated by a British anti-war protester, who is in turn shot by Lang’s bodyguards. Nevertheless, the writer is asked to complete the book for posthumous publication, as in light of Lang’s death it will be a certain best-seller. Amelia invites him to the book’s launch party in London, where she unwittingly tells him the Americans tightened access to the book, as the “beginnings” contained evidence threatening national security. She also tells him Emmett, who is in attendance, was Ruth’s tutor when she was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard. The writer realises the clues were hidden in the original manuscript in the opening words of each chapter, and discovers the message: “Lang’s wife Ruth was recruited as a CIA agent by Professor Paul Emmett of Harvard University.” He concludes Ruth shaped Lang’s every political decision to benefit the USA under direction from the CIA.Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)The writer passes a note to Ruth revealing his discovery. She unfolds the note, and is devastated. When she sees the writer raising a glass, she is kept from following him by Emmett and other assistants. As the writer leaves the party he attempts to take a taxi, without success. As he crosses the street off-camera, a car accelerates in his direction to an impending collision. As witnesses react in horror, the pages containing McAra’s manuscript are blowing in the wind, leaving the writer’s fate unconfirmed.Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer (2010)Polanski is a master of subtlety, grace, and wit. His eye creates breathtaking and beautiful shots. His ear adds a malevolent and demented humor to the score of a film. There is most always something unspeakable, indescribable beneath the surface of a Polanski film. Something unnerving about the tone but never overbearing, or pounding the audience over the head with it. This is certainly true of The Ghost Writer. What I found surprising, not being familiar with the novel on which it is based, was the political statement being made. Humorously portraying certain key figures in the political environment of the last decade. In any other hands, this could never have been done so believably and deftly. All the key performances are on target. And how could they not be. For Polanski knows how to work with actors and guide them in creating such memorable characters. Ewan McGregor certainly fits his role seamlessly as does Olivia Williams. So many could learn from Polanski how a thriller needs to be constructed in order to hold an audience to the very end. The word entertainment means to ‘hold in between’ which is what The Ghost Writer does from beginning to its haunting and inevitable conclusion.

REVIEW: NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 2: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN

CAST

Ben Stiller (Zoolander)
Ricky Gervais (Muppets Most Wanted)
Jake Cherry (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Robin Williams (Hook)
Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap)
Alain Chabat (A Thousand Words)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder)
Mizuo Peck (A Case of You)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)
Rami Malek (Battleship)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Brad Garrett (Finding Dory)
Jay Baruchel (This Is The End)
Keith Powell (30 Rock)
Craig Robinson (Zack and Miri Make A Porno)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Eugene Levy (American Pie)
Mindy Kaling (Ocean’s Eight)
Ed Helms (The Hangover)
Jonah Hill (Get Him To The Greek)
Matthew Harrison (Thirteen Ghosts)
Nick Jonas (Jumanji: The Next Level)

Larry Daley, former night guard at the American Museum of Natural History, now runs his own direct response television company that sells inventions based on his experiences. He returns to the museum, discovering most of the exhibits will be moved to the Federal Archives at the Smithsonian Institution and replaced with holographic information providers. The Tablet of Akmenrah is to remain in the museum, leaving most of the exhibits without the ability to come to life at night. After the exhibits are moved, Larry receives a phone call from the cowboy Jedediah, who informs him that Dexter the monkey stole the Tablet and took it to the Smithsonian, bringing every exhibit in it to life. Larry travels to Washington, DC, navigating his way to the archives with help from his son Nick while posing as a night guard.Larry finds his friends trapped in their shipping container under attack from Akmenrah’s evil older brother Kahmunrah, accidentally activating the tablet and bringing the exhibits in the Smithsonian to life again. Kahmunrah reveals his plans to use the tablet’s powers to conquer the world. Larry escapes, aided by a gigantic octopus and General George A. Custer, who is captured, and then the adventurous Amelia Earhart, who becomes his travelling companion around the museum. The two evade Kahmunrah’s men, trapping them in the portrait of V-J Day in Times Square. Kahmunrah enlists fellow evil historical leaders, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Al Capone to help capture Larry and retrieve the tablet. Jedediah tries to help but is placed in an hourglass. Kahmunrah is unable to open the Gate of the Underworld with the tablet, sending Larry and Amelia off to translate it or Jedediah dies.While searching for someone in the museum who can help, Larry and Amelia end up falling in love. They travel to the National Air and Space Museum, briefly encountering the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial. Inside the museum, Larry grounds all of the aircraft and rockets from taking off, before a group of Albert Einstein bobbleheads inform him that the combination is the value of pi. Napoleon, Ivan, and Capone’s troops arrive, prompting Larry and Amelia to escape using the Wright Flyer. They crash the plane into the Smithsonian, where Kahmunrah uses the acquired combination to summon an army of bird-headed warriors. Lincoln crashes in through the window, frightening the warriors back into the Underworld.Amelia gathers an army of allies including Larry’s friends and Custer, leading to a climactic battle. Larry obtains the tablet, banishing Kahmunrah back to the Underworld. Amelia flies Larry and the New York exhibits back home, giving Larry a final kiss before taking off in her plane, knowing she will become dust before reaching the Smithsonian. Larry sells his company, donating the money to the museum to renovate it, and the exhibits remain, capable of moving about at night under the pretense of being animatronics. Larry is rehired as night guard and aids a woman who resembles Amelia.As sequels go, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” proves the exception to the rule. Director Shaun Levy’s ambitious as well as imaginative follow-up to “Night at the Museum” tops the original. One of the reason that it surpasses the first film is the casting. Amy Adams is terrific as Amelia Earhart, and she makes an impact on the movie with her presence. Of course, part of this is due to the historical person that she plays. She exerts a charisma that none of the women had in the first film.

 

 

 

REVIEW: SNITCH

Starring

Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: The Next Level)
Barry Pepper (The Lone Ranger)
Benjamin Bratt (Doctor Strange)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Michael Kenneth Williams (Ghostbusters)
Melina Kanakaredes (Rounders)
Nadine Velazquez (My Name Is Earl)
Rafi Gavron (Tracers)
David Harbour (Hellboy)
Jason Douglas (Sin City)

Dwayne Johnson and JD Pardo in Snitch (2013)College student Jason Collins is video-chatting with his childhood best friend Craig Johnson. Craig discusses a box of drugs that he is attempting to move and attempts to persuade Jason to let Craig ship the drugs to his house, offering him a share of the profit. Despite Jason’s reluctance, Craig texts him the tracking number for the package. A courier delivers Craig’s package to Collins’ house. Jason signs for the package and brings it to his room, discovering that it contains a large amount of pills in a bag, as well as a tracking device. DEA officers arrive and break into the house; Jason flees but is chased down by Agent Cooper.Dwayne Johnson in Snitch (2013)While at a barbecue, John Matthews, Jason’s estranged father and owner of a construction company, is called by his ex-wife Sylvie about Jason being arrested. John and Sylvie meet and have a tense discussion while waiting to speak to Jason. An investigator speaks with them, saying that Craig set Jason up in a sting operation to reduce his own sentence after being caught. Jason’s charges carry a minimum of 10 years in prison and Jason is denied bail. He is put in an interview room with John, Sylvie, and the investigator, who pressures Jason to inform on one of his own friends for trafficking in order to reduce his own sentence, as Craig had done.Dwayne Johnson, Michael Kenneth Williams, and JD Pardo in Snitch (2013)Using his connections, John arranges to meet with local US Attorney Joanne Keeghan, who is running a very aggressive anti-drug campaign. Keeghan agrees to reduce Jason’s sentence if John will inform on a drug dealer, but states that he’ll receive little help from her and that the risk will be all his. John visits Jason in prison, observing from facial wounds that Jason has been abused by other prisoners.Dwayne Johnson and Michael Kenneth Williams in Snitch (2013)Agent Cooper leads a task force which will monitor any dealings John arranges to use as evidence for an arrest. John searches through his employee records and finds that Daniel James, a new employee, has two prior distribution convictions. Daniel is currently leading a clean life to avoid a third strike. John offers twenty thousand dollars if Daniel will simply introduce him to a dealer; Daniel agrees, though he is unaware that John is acting as an informant. Daniel introduces John to Malik, an extremely dangerous, high-ranking local drug dealer, who also has two strikes. Explaining that his construction business cannot stay afloat in the current economy without a supplement to its revenues, John offers to run nearly limitless amounts of drugs at almost zero risk in his freight trucks. Malik agrees under the condition that John and Daniel drive the initial run themselves.Barry Pepper and Dwayne Johnson in Snitch (2013)John and Agent Cooper arrange for several wire taps. John drives to the pick-up point near the Mexican border when a rival gang ambushes the pick-up, but John manages a daring escape, impressing cartel kingpin Juan Carlos “El Topo” Pintera, whose men fight off the hijackers. John then makes the deal, delivering the drugs to Malik while under surveillance by Agent Cooper. Malik mentions a meeting with cartel members higher than himself; Cooper, hoping to catch the higher priority targets, does not move to arrest Malik as agreed. Keeghan claims Cooper did the right thing and reneges on her promise to reduce Jason’s sentence, unless John cooperates in the second meeting. John, outraged, demands in turn that Jason be released when the job is completed. Daniel learns of John’s arrangement with the DEA and is furious, saying that the cartel will kill John, Daniel, and their families if the truth comes out. John and Daniel send their families into hiding.Melina Kanakaredes and Dwayne Johnson in Snitch (2013)John meets with Pintera, who wants him to run nearly $100 million in drug profits into Mexico and offers to make John a member of the cartel’s inner circle if he succeeds. Keeghan relishes the prospect of arresting such a high-profile dealer, but Cooper has a change of heart and tries to talk John out of doing the run, suspecting the cartel will kill him afterward. John devises a plan to free himself and Daniel from both the government and the cartel. During the run, John is able to escape Cooper’s surveillance. At the same time, Daniel raids Malik’s house, killing his guards and mortally wounding him. Before dying, Malik reveals Pintera’s cell phone number to Daniel. John calls Cooper and has him track both his new cell phone and Pintera’s phone, effectively giving Cooper both the money and the kingpin at once. The cartel realize John is an informant and he leads them on a highway chase and shoot-out before escaping. Cartel members and the money are seized by Cooper’s men. Pintera is surrounded by federal agents and surrenders without engaging in a gun battle because his young son is with him. Jason is released the next day. John and his family go into the witness protection program and he leaves Daniel the large Federal reward check that John received for the capture of Pintera.Dwayne Johnson and Jon Bernthal in Snitch (2013)Looking around the Internet, I see Snitch receiving mixed reviews. Personally, I think this movie is well above average.  Overall, Snitch makes for an evening well spent.

 

 

 

 

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: DAREDEVIL – A COLD DAY IN HELL’S KICTHEN

 

MAIN CAST

Charlie Cox (Stardust)
Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks)
Elden Henson (The Buttefly Effect)
Jon Bernthal (World Trade Center)
Élodie Yung (Gods of Egypt)

GUEST CAST

Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Rob Morgan (Pariah)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Royce Johnson (Jessica Jones)

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Nobu Yoshioka plans to lure Daredevil into a trap by abducting twenty people Daredevil has either brought to justice or saved from harm. Tyler hands him a list which was taken from Detective Sergeant Brett Mahoney. The Hand then abducts all twenty people, including Turk Barrett, Karen Page, and the veteran Jerry. While being transported, Page discovers that Barrett is under house arrest, and wearing a device which transmits his location. He has tampered with him so that it won’t work. However, after Tyler shoots and kills Jerry, Barrett turns the device back on. Meanwhile, Matt Murdock restraints Stick in a chair, telling him that he and Elektra Natchios will take on the Hand alone. Murdock admits that he doesn’t have a plan yet. On the roof, he and Natchios decide that the best plan is to take Yoshioka down, leaving him alive so that his followers can see that he’s just a man.At a restaurant, Jeri Hogarth offers Foggy Nelson a job, suggesting that should he play his cards right, he could be made partner. He is stunned by the starting salary, and intrigued when Hogarth says there is a future in defending vigilantes. At Melvin Potter’s Workshop, Potter fits Natchios for body armor and presents Daredevil with a billy club of his own design. Murdock is touched and admits that he doesn’t know what to say to thank him enough, but Potter brushes this off, saying that there are those in Hell’s Kitchen who know who is really looking out for them. At the same time, Frank Castle returns to his home, which he has not been in since his family’s deaths. He sadly walks through the house before sitting at the dining room table and looking at a newspaper article about his supposed death, with the X-ray of his skull on front page. Inspired, he takes his body armor to the garage, where he listens to a police radio while he spray paints the image of his skull on the armor.Back at Murdock’s apartment, Natchios and Murdock prepare to look for Yoshioka when Murdock’s phone rings. It’s Nelson, calling from the police department. He reports that Mahoney has been roughed up by people looking for information on Daredevil. Murdock appears at the fire escape at the 15th precinct in his Daredevil armor, prompting Mahoney to comment that the masked vigilante is the only person he can trust. He admits that he gave the files on Daredevil’s actions to the people who had roughed him up because they threatened to kill his mother. When Mahoney tells him the file included all the people he had ever helped, Murdock rushes to Page’s apartment, only to find it disheveled, and her gone.MV5BNjE1MDQ5OGUtMGZhZi00ODJhLThmN2EtYjVlODhjZDcyYTM1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzc0MjU3NDE@._V1_On his rooftop, Murdock desperately tries to listen to clues as to where the Hand has taken their prisoners, but he is frustrated. Panicking, he tells Natchios that he can’t block out the extraneous noise. Natchios talks him through blocking out every sound that isn’t relevant so that he can find the prisoners, especially Page. Murdock is finally able to hear the sounds of the bus that is transporting them.The Hand has transported the prisoners to an unknown location, but the police, alerted that Barrett had broken house arrest, arrive. Tyler tells her subordinates to take care of the police while she alerts Yoshioka to the news. Hand archers kill the police officers, but not before one is able to radio for help. Murdock and Natchios arrive at the Hand’s location, and Murdock descends from the rooftop to save the hostages, although Natchios stays behind, convinced that it is a trap. She suggests that the people inside, although innocent, are a much smaller group than the people who would suffer if the Hand got their hands on the Black Sky. Inside, the Hand discover Barrett’s location device and begin to take a knife to his ankle to remove it, when Daredevil crashes into the room and stops them. He is able to free all the hostages, taking a moment to ask Page if she is all right before hurrying her out of the room. More Hand ninjas arrive and he fights them, assisted by Natchios, who cooly tells him that she got bored waiting for him. They realize that the only way out of the building is up on the roof, so they head upstairs. Near the rooftop, he reports that there is an army of Hand ninjas waiting for them, and they both accept that they might not make it out alive.Natchios is ready to meet her fate, but Murdock stops her before they go up to the rooftop, removing his mask and telling her that if they make it out alive, he wants to go with her, leaving New York City behind. She tries to convince him that he belongs in New York but he responds by saying there was only thing that made him feel more alive than New York, and it was her. Meanwhile, Page and the other hostages emerge from the building to find Mahoney and a squadron of police waiting for them. Page tells Mahoney that the abduction was just a trap to lure out Daredevil. Mahoney orders lights to be shone on the building. Nelson arrives, and is shocked when Page tells him about the trap set for Daredevil. On the rooftop, Natchios and Murdock battle with Hand ninjas led by Yoshioka. They are able to defeat many of the ninjas but Yoshioka proves to be a formidable opponent, hitting Murdock so hard that he knocks his mask off. Just as Yoshioka is about to kill Murdock, Natchios attacks him, and Yoshioka inadvertently stabs her. She dies in Murdock’s arms, after telling him that this was not the end.MV5BNTljZjFjZmYtYmU1YS00Zjc1LWI5NDUtNDAxOWY3ZWY0OTViXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjkzNjQzODI@._V1_Yoshioka, upset about losing the Black Sky, orders the ninjas to kill Murdock. Murdock, enraged, fights then, and is surprised when gunfire takes some of the ninjas down. He turns to see Frank Castle on a nearby rooftop, using his sniper skills to dispatch some of Daredevil’s opponents. Page looks up at the sound of the gunfire and sees Castle, wearing his Punisher body armor. Murdock does battle with Yoshioka and is victorious, using his billy club to fling him off the roof. Yoshioka, however, survives the fall, only to be killed by Stick, who decapitates him and declares that this time he will stay dead. A month later, at a cemetery, Stick and Murdock stand before Natchios’s gravesite. Murdock wants to say a few words but doesn’t have any. Stick asks Murdock if it was worth it to love her, and Murdock says that despite Stick’s warning to cut himself off from humanity, it was worth it.At Josie’s Bar, Page and Nelson have drinks together. She remarks on how sad it feels with Murdock not with them, but then congratulates Nelson on his new job. He promises her they will always be friends before settling Nelson and Murdock’s tab with Josie. At the New York Bulletin office, Mitchell Ellison is surprised to find Page there, since it’s Christmas Eve. She still has writer’s block. He convinces her to write a story only she can, from her point of view. He gives her a bottle of Scotch and then leaves. Page writes a story about heroes, suggesting that her readers look in the mirror, because all New Yorkers are heroes. Meanwhile, Castle returns to his house one last time, retrieving a CD with the word “Micro” written on it before setting the house on fire. Murdock asks Page to meet him at the Nelson and Murdock offices. She is reluctant, but is waiting for him when he arrives there. He tells her he has something to show her and pulls out his Daredevil helmet. As she watches in shock, he finally reveals to her that he is Daredevil. Meanwhile, Nachios’s grave is dug up, and her body is placed in the stone sarcophagus that Yoshioka had been preparing. As Hand ninjas respectfully lower the lid over it, a heartbeat is faintly heard.If you were as enthusiastic about the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil, I hope you’re as pleased as I am with the new episodes. There’s an intensity and toughness in the storytelling that gets at the heart of the character and provides further proof why Daredevil is the one of the best heroes in comics. Ending season 2 at Christmas was a surprise but all in all the final was excellent leaves us wanting more.

REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 1

Starring

Josh Radnor (The Hunt)
Jason Segel (Sex Tape)
Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Endgame)
Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Bob Saget (Full House)

Neil Patrick Harris, Joe Nieves, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
David Henrie (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Marshall Manesh (Will & Grace)
Joe Nieves (Stuck In The Middle)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Anne Dudek (Mad Men)
Charlene Amoia (American Pie: Reunion)
Jayma Mays (Heroes)
Camryn Manheim (Scary Movie 3)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Bill Fagerbakke (Spongebob Squarepants)
Suzie Plakson (Disclosure)
Danica McKellar (Young Justice)
Kathleen Rose Perkins (Gone Girl)
J.P. Manoux (Euro Trip)
Jackie Geary (13 Reasons Why)
Ashley Williams (A Most Violent Year)
Virginia Williams (Fuller House)
Kelly Stables (Two and a Half Men)
Bryan Callen (The Hangover)
Taran Killam (12 Years a Slave)
Diane Salinger (Batman Returns)
Alexis Denisof (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Erinn Bartlett (Shallow Hal)
David Burtka (Neil’s Puppet Dreams)
Eric Allan Kramer (Mike & Molly)
America Olivo (Bitch Slap)
Nate Torrence (Get Smart)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)

 

Premiering in Sept. 2005, created by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and billed as “a love story in reverse,” How I Met Your Mother turns the “Friends” formula on its head by having one of its main characters, Ted Mosby (voiced by Bob Saget), some 30 years after the modern day events of the show, relaying the twists and turns of said events to his two, often disinterested children (David Henrie and Lyndsy Fonseca).It’s a nifty approach to what would otherwise be well-worn material, although the chemistry of the ensemble cast goes a long way towards smoothing over any feelings of seen-it-before-ness. Joining the modern day Ted Mosby (winningly portrayed by Josh Radnor) are his quartet of New York City-dwelling companions: the goofy couple Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), former flame Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and the scene-stealing maniac Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris).

Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)How I Met Your Mother wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining as it is without its cast — it’s unquestionably the show’s biggest strength, although some interesting creative choices by Bays and Thomas run a close second; the pilot episode ends with a mildly shocking twist: The woman that Ted has been avidly pursuing for the past 22 minutes is not, in fact, the mother of his children. It throws you off-balance and guarantees that you’ll tune in for ensuing episodes to see exactly how Ted ends up telling stories to two youngsters 30 years hence. It’s a pretty nifty narrative trick and one which ensured the show had longevity

REVIEW: THE PUNISHER – SEASON 2

Jon Bernthal in The Punisher (2017)

Starring

Jon Bernthal (The Accountant)
Ben Barnes (Westworld)
Amber Rose Revah (The Devil’s Double)
Jason R. Moore (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
Josh Stewart (No Ordinary Family)
Floriana Lima (Supergirl)
Giorgia Whigham (13 Reasons Why)
Deborah Ann Woll (Mother’s Day)

Ben Barnes in The Punisher (2017)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Royce Johnson (Demolition)
Tony Plana (Ugly Betty)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Corbin Bernsen (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Annette O’Toole (Smallville)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Limitless TV)

Rob Morgan (Stranger Things)

Frank Castle doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who gets out to the movies very often, so we’ll probably never know what he thought about Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But you have to assume he’d identify with Kylo Ren’s infamous monologue, “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. It’s the only way to become who you were meant to be.” That pretty much sums up Frank’s struggle since losing his family in a hail of bullets and transforming himself into a remorseless vigilante.Amber Rose Revah in The Punisher (2017)That same struggle takes on a new form in The Punisher Season 2. Having finally tracked down and punished every single person responsible for the deaths of his family, Frank is finally a free man. But can someone who spent so long being defined by hate and a thirst for revenge actually find peace? Can Frank let his past die and rebuild his life, or is he doomed to forever be defined as the Punisher? It’s a compelling dilemma. But ironically, it’s only when Season 2 clings to the past that it becomes the show it was meant to be.Jon Bernthal in The Punisher (2017)Initially, Season 2 comes across as a major departure from its predecessor. The premiere touches base with Frank (Jon Bernthal) as he aimlessly wanders the Midwest and finds his true calling as a Shooter Jennings groupie. It’s a slow start to the new season, but one that sets the mood nicely. We see Frank coming so close to remembering how to live as a normal human being again, to the point where he even develops a romance with a local bartender. But the fact that Frank so quickly and recklessly throws himself into the first fracas he can find shows that he was only ever waiting for a new mission to come along. If the driving question of Season 2 is whether Frank Castle can find peace, the first episode alone makes it pretty clear that it’ll only be with a gun in his hand.Josh Stewart in The Punisher (2017)The first few episodes of the season attempt to make a fairly clean break from the events, characters, and setting of Season 1. Sure, the show touches base with old favorites like Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) and Billy Russo (Ben Barnes), but the focus in this early part of the season is fixed more on newcomers like wayward teen grifter Amy Bendix (Giorgia Whigham) and former Neo-Nazi-turned-God-fearing assassin, John Pilgrim (Josh Stewart).Jon Bernthal and Jason R. Moore in The Punisher (2017)Unfortunately, it’s here where one of the fundamental flaws of Season 2 becomes apparent. These newcomers struggle to measure up to the strong supporting cast seen in Season 1. Amy initially comes across as an obnoxious, conniving brat, as well as a crude attempt to replace both Karen Page and Micro in one new character. It’s a good four or five episodes into the season before she finally begins to gain some semblance of depth and forges a more believable bond with Frank.Jon Bernthal in The Punisher (2017)Pilgrim (who’s loosely based on a character from the comics called The Mennonite) often shows potential as a man whose struggle to leave his dark past behind him mirrors Frank’s own journey. But both Pilgrim and his handlers, the nefarious right-wing billionaires Anderson (Corbin Bernsen) and Eliza Schultz (Annette O’Toole) are badly underdeveloped. This season creates the impression that showrunner Steve Lightfoot wanted to create a conflict that could rip from as many headlines as possible. You’ve got your right-wing extremists, your shady Russians blackmailing politicians, and your rampant gun violence plaguing Middle America. But none of this material seems especially well thought-out or ever comes together as a satisfying whole. By the time the focus shifts back to New York and the renewed feud between Frank and Billy, the Schultzes and their dirty dealings become a light afterthought.Ben Barnes and Charles Brice in The Punisher (2017)Fortunately, at least Season 2 capitalizes on the foundation established in Season 1 where Billy is concerned. We see Billy Russo, handsome businessman, transform into Jigsaw, psychologically tormented killer. The series only loosely adapts the Jigsaw from the comics, however. Rather than depicting him as a hideously scarred supervillain out for blood the moment he escapes police custody, Season 2 takes a more understated approach to Billy. His scarring is less dramatic. Early on, he wants only to understand his sad lot in life and the skull-clad demon that haunts his dreams.Jon Bernthal and Jason R. Moore in The Punisher (2017)The result of all of this is that Billy remains a sympathetic figure throughout the season. Even when his dark, depraved side begins to burst forth again, we understand the pain and trauma fueling his actions and the profound sense of loss that plagues him. Barnes’ performance improves leaps and bounds over that of Season 1. At times it’s bigger and flashier, but often Barnes is able to bring a wounded subtlety to the character. In some cases, Barnes is even required to act from behind a mask for prolonged periods, showing a gift for using body language and voice to make up for his concealed features. Jigsaw may not quite rival the likes of Wilson Fisk and Kilgrave as the best of Netflix’s Marvel villains, but he’s close enough.The new season also further cements Bernthal’s Frank Castle as the best live-action incarnation of the character to date. To be fair, Bernthal has had far more time to make the character his own than actors like Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson. Regardless, the show really benefits from that crucial combination of nuanced characterization and Bernthal’s captivating performance. This season is careful never to paint Frank as either hero or villain. If anything, it’s preoccupied with the narrow line separating a soldier like Frank from a craven mercenary like Billy. Bernthal brings a wide range to the role, playing Frank as a roaring powerhouse of rage, a grieving survivor, and various degrees in between those two extremes. Season 2 is also kind to both Revah’s Dinah Madani and Jason R. Moore’s Curtis Holt. Both characters are able to take a more active role in the conflict, including directly joining Frank in his war against Billy. Dinah’s emotional gauntlet is one of the highlights of the season, as she continuously grapples with her profound betrayal from Season 1. As for Curtis, we see his loyalties tested and his life begin to buckle under the weight of being Frank’s friend, culminating in his decision to forge his own path and choose for himself what he believes to be the greatest good.Ben Barnes in The Punisher (2017)Season 2’s fundamental flaw is that it forces viewers to accept the good with the bad. It makes some significant improvements to Season 1’s formula in terms of pacing and action. Following the methodical “Roadhouse Blues,” the season’s narrative quickly builds momentum. Whereas it seemed like Season 1 was content to go multiple episodes without giving Frank a chance to do some punishing, pretty much every chapter of Season 2 includes at least one significant action sequence. There’s also a greater variety to the action this time around, with some fights unfolding as raw, gritty, hand-to-hand brawls and others ending with hundreds of bullets littering the streets of New York. Honestly, the best thing that can be said for Season 2 is that, unlike its predecessor, it didn’t seem overly drawn out at 13 episodes.Jon Bernthal and Giorgia Whigham in The Punisher (2017)But the flip side to this is that Season 2 leaves me wanting so much more in some areas. Again, so much involving the Schultzes, John Pilgrim, and that whole halfhearted conspiracy feels poorly developed. These characters disappear for multiple episodes at a stretch and even when they return, they connect to Frank’s struggle only in the most tenuous ways. More often than not, Pilgrim comes across as a refugee from a completely different show. This season may be more eventful than its predecessor, but it’s also far less focused. Krista Dumont (Floriana Lima) may be the biggest offender of all. This is a character who is obviously a villain lurking in plain sight from her very first appearance. Yet never do the writers make more than the most rudimentary effort to flesh out her background or justify her erratic behavior. She functions in her capacity as someone to shine a brief, fleeting light into Billy Russo’s demented life, and that’s it.Ben Barnes in The Punisher (2017)Looking back at Season 2 as a whole, it was like watching two completely different story pitches being crudely grafted together. And that’s to say nothing of some of the other questionable storytelling choices made over the course of the season. However little this season succeeded in tying together these loose narrative threads, it did at least manage to give characters like Frank, Dinah, Amy, and Billy’s story the closure they needed. “The Whirlwind” is both the most action-packed and most emotionally charged installment of the season. It’s here we see Frank take those final steps toward becoming the Punisher through and through. With little prospect of a Season 3, it’s heartening to see the series end on such a definitive note. The Punisher Season 2 improves on the first in some key ways, establishing a stronger sense of narrative momentum and giving fans much more action. At the same time, the series also falters in other areas. Its narrative is more unfocused, and its new characters struggle to measure up to the old guard. This season does capitalize on the foundation established by Season 1 in terms of the Punisher/Jigsaw rivalry, however, and it leaves Frank Castle in a good place in the finale.

REVIEW: THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Jonah Hill (22 Jump Street)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Rob Reiner (New Girl)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Matthew McConaughey (EDTV)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Joanna Lumley (The Cat’s Meow)
Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother)
Rizwan Manji (The Dictator)
Christine Ebersole (Confessions of a Shopaholic)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Katarina Cas (Danny Collins)
P. J. Byrne (Final Destination 5)
Kenneth Choi (Red Dawn)
Henry Zebrowski (Herores Reborn)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Jake Hoffman (Hook)
J.C. MacKenzie (Dark Angel)
Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys)
Jeremy Bobb (The Kitchen)
Christine Ebersole (Confessions of a Shopaholic)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)In 1987, Jordan Belfort procures a job as a Wall Street stockbroker for L.F. Rothschild, employed under Mark Hanna, who quickly entices him with the sex and drugs fueled stockbroker culture and teaches him that a stockbroker’s only job is to make money for himself. Jordan soon finds his career terminated following Black Monday and takes a job at a boiler room brokerage firm on Long Island that specializes in penny stocks. Thanks to his aggressive pitching style and the high commissions, Jordan makes a small fortune.Leonardo DiCaprio, P.J. Byrne, Jonah Hill, Cristin Milioti, Henry Zebrowski, and MacKenzie Meehan in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Jordan befriends his neighbor, Donnie Azoff, and the two found their own company. They recruit several of Jordan’s friends, whom Jordan trains in the art of the “hard sell”. The basic method of the firm is a pump and dump scam. To cloak this, Jordan gives the firm the respectable-sounding name of Stratton Oakmont. After an exposé in Forbes, hundreds of ambitious young financiers flock to his company. Jordan becomes immensely successful and slides into a decadent lifestyle full of prostitutes and drugs. He has an affair with a woman named Naomi Lapaglia. When his wife finds out, they divorce, and he marries Naomi. Meanwhile, the SEC and the FBI begin investigating Stratton Oakmont. Jordan illegally makes $22 million in three hours upon securing the IPO of Steve Madden. This brings him and his firm to the attention of the FBI. To hide his money, Jordan opens a Swiss bank account with corrupt banker Jean-Jacques Saurel in the name of Naomi’s Aunt Emma, who is a British national and thus outside the reach of American authorities. He uses the wife and in-laws of his friend Brad Bodnick, who have European passports, to smuggle the cash into Switzerland.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Donnie gets into a public brawl with Brad, and, while Donnie escapes, Brad is arrested. Jordan also learns from his private investigator that the FBI is wiretapping his phones. Fearing for his son, Jordan’s father advises him to leave Stratton Oakmont and lie low while Jordan’s lawyer negotiates a deal to keep him out of prison. Jordan, however, cannot bear to quit and talks himself into staying in the middle of his farewell speech. Jordan, Donnie, and their wives are on a yacht trip to Italy when they learn that Aunt Emma has died of a heart attack. Jordan decides to travel to Switzerland immediately to settle the bank account. In order to bypass border controls, he forces his yacht captain to sail to Monaco, but the ship is capsized in a storm. After their rescue, the plane sent to take them to Geneva is destroyed when a seagull flies into the engine. Jordan takes this as a sign from God and decides to sober up.Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Two years later, the FBI arrests Jordan because Saurel, arrested in Florida on an unrelated charge, has also informed on Jordan. Since the evidence against him is overwhelming, Jordan agrees to gather evidence on his colleagues in exchange for leniency. Fed up with Jordan’s lifestyle, Naomi tells Jordan she is divorcing him and wants full custody of their children. Jordan loses his mind and tries to run off with his daughter Skylar in his car, but he ends up crashing in the driveway. The next morning, Jordan wears a wire to work but slips a note to Donnie warning him. Donnie keeps the note and rats out on Jordan to the FBI. Jordan is arrested for breaching his co-operation deal. The FBI raids and shuts down Stratton Oakmont. Despite this one breach, Jordan receives a reduced sentence for his testimony and serves three years in a minimum security prison. After his release, Jordan makes a living hosting seminars on sales technique.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Scorsese has always managed to elicit astounding performances from his actors, and his fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio results in one of the most charismatic, despicable, offensive and captivating characters to ever appear on screen. As financial bad boy Belfort, DiCaprio swaggers from scene to scene ingesting eye-popping amounts of narcotics, groping and fondling nearly every female within reach, and spouting more profanity in three hours than an entire season of The Sopranos. Belfort is the kind of person that any sane person would detest in real life, but thanks to Scorses and DiCaprio, we can’t take our eyes off him.

REVIEW: THE PUNISHER – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Jon Bernthal (World Trade Center)
Ben Barnes (Westworld)
Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Suburban Girl)
Amber Rose Revah (Indian Summers)
Deborah Ann Woll (Daredevil)
Daniel Webber (11.22.63)
Paul Schulze (Zodiac)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Michael Nathanson (The Wolf of Wall Street)
C. Thomas Howell (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Jason R. Moore (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STAR

Shohreh Aghdashloo (Star Trek Beyond)
Geoffrey Cantor (The Tick)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Limitless TV)
Rob Morgan (Starnger Things)
Kelli Barrett (Mr. Popper’s Penguins)
Tony Plana (Ugly Betty)
Ripley Sobo (Batman V Superman)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Nicolette Pierini (Annie)
Ilfenesh Hadera (Baywatch)

The Punisher begins with Frank Castle believing he has completed his mission for revenge against the mobsters who killed his family and hanging up his skull-adorned costume. Six months later everybody thinks Frank Castle is dead and, having grown a hipster beard, he’s taken a new name and landed a job on a construction crew where even though more modern equipment is available, he’s able to take a sledgehammer to concrete walls. Frank is about to discover that he did a lot of punishing for nothing, or at least that his punishing was only partial, because it turns out that the death of his family relates to his black ops military service in Afghanistan and he’s going to have to start punishing again. This time, he has an ally in a former NSA analyst Micro, whose family thinks that he’s dead, too. Frank, who works better alone, finds himself in an unlikely partnership and almost a friendship. Castle has to reconnect with former brothers-in-arms Curtis (Jason R. Moore), now working to support soldiers suffering from PTSD, and Billy Russo (Ben Barnes), now the slick head of a private security concern. Meanwhile, the bad stuff that happened in Kandahar has attracted the attention of Homeland Security agent Dinah Madani, a child of Iranian refugees. Also involved, and providing links to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, is Daredevil regular Karen Page, whose status as compassionate, frequently endangered Marvel TV sidekick/innocent bystander remains intact.punisher-110The Punisher was a gritty, great start for the character. It helped build the character’s past while presenting a self-contained and intriguing story. There are some definite current modern themes explored and it feels very different from anything on the Marvel Netflix side of things in the past. It was nice to see a character in this series once again take pain and have many potentially fatal situations.  I enjoyed watching the season, fans of the character will find this captured the anti-hero very well though some may feel it’s rather slow to get going. Once it does all move quickly and things are all well developed it doesn’t hold back on the action or tension. The Punisher is a solid character so it’s nice to see a full season actually deliver on what potential there is for this badass within the universe.

REVIEW: FURY


CAST

Brad Pitt (World War Z)
Logan Lerman (The Three Musketeers)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Michael Peña (Ant-Man)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Scott Eastwood (Texas Chainsaw)
Xavier Samuel (Twilight: Eclipse)
Brad William Henke (Split)
Jack Bannon (Pennyworth)

Don “Wardaddy” Collier, a battle-hardened U.S. Army staff sergeant in the 2nd Armored Division, commands an M4 Sherman “Easy Eight” tank named Fury and its five-man, all-veteran crew: gunner Boyd “Bible” Swan; loader Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis; and driver Trini “Gordo” Garcia (all of whom have been together since the North African Campaign), as the Allies make their final push into Nazi Germany. When the tank’s original assistant driver/bow gunner, “Red”, is killed in action, Private Norman Ellison (a fresh recruit trained only as a clerk typist) is assigned to be an immediate replacement.As Fury and its tank platoon move deeper into Germany, Norman’s inexperience becomes dangerous: first when he fails to shoot several Hitler Youth child soldiers — who ambush the commanding officer’s tank with a Panzerfaust, killing the entire crew, and then later during a skirmish with German anti-tank guns in which he hesitates under fire. Wardaddy is angered at his incompetence, and after the battle, he orders Norman to execute a captive German soldier. When Norman refuses, Wardaddy wrestles a pistol into his hand and forces him to pull the trigger, killing the prisoner and traumatizing Norman. Wardaddy then leads the tanks to capture a small German town, where Norman kills several German soldiers. While searching an apartment, Wardaddy and Norman encounter a German woman, Irma, and her younger cousin, Emma. Norman and Emma go into the bedroom together and have sex. The four then have breakfast, but the rest of Fury’s crew barges in, harassing the women and angering Wardaddy and Norman. As the men prepare to leave, a German artillery bombardment strikes the town. Norman finds Emma among the dead, which traumatizes him once more.Wardaddy and his platoon are then ordered to hold a vital crossroads to prevent the enemy from attacking the Allies’ vulnerable rear lines. They head to their objective, only to be ambushed by a German Tiger I. Wardaddy leads the Shermans in a counterattack; their shells fail to penetrate the Tiger’s thick frontal armor, and its heavier gun knocks out three tanks from the platoon. Fury eventually destroys the Tiger by outmaneuvering it and firing into its thinner rear armor, but with the radio damaged, Fury is forced to continue the mission alone. Just as it reaches the crossroads, the tank is immobilized by a landmine. Norman is ordered to scout a nearby hill where he spots a battalion of Waffen-SS panzergrenadiers heading their way. The crew initially wants to flee, but Wardaddy refuses to leave and they decide to stay.The crew disguise Fury so that it will appear knocked out, and then wait for the approaching Germans inside. They share a bottle of whiskey, and Norman is finally accepted by the crew and given his nickname: “Machine”. When the Germans arrive, the crew ambush them using both the tank’s and their own personal weapons. As ammunition runs out and the battle turns desperate, Grady is killed by a Panzerfaust round penetrating the turret; Gordo is wounded and then sacrifices himself by covering one of his dropped grenades; then a sniper kills Bible and severely wounds Wardaddy. Wardaddy then orders Norman to escape through an emergency hatch in the floor as the Germans drop grenades into the tank. Norman slips out just as they explode, killing Wardaddy. Norman tries to hide as the Germans move on, but is quickly discovered by a young SS soldier. The soldier hesitates and then leaves, deciding not to report him.The next morning, Norman awakens and crawls back into the tank, where he covers Wardaddy’s corpse with his coat and takes his revolver as he hears movement outside. Norman awaits his fate, only to discover he is being rescued by US soldiers, who tell him that he is a hero. As Norman is transported away to safety, he looks back at the carnage behind him: the countless dead German troops lying around the battered Fury.Amazing war film. Very realistic and gritty with superb battle scenes. Very hard to watch in places as it portrays how dehumanising war is. Extremely well made and filmed.

REVIEW: THE ACCOUNTANT


CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Jon Bernthal (Daredevil)
Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Jean Smart (Legion)
Andy Umberger (Unstoppable)
Alison Wright (The Americans)
Jason Davis (Step Brothers)
Susan Williams (The Founder)
Daeg Faerch (Halloween)

Christian ‘Chris’ Wolff (Ben Affleck), a mental calculator, works as a forensic accountant, tracking insider financial deceptions for numerous criminal enterprises. His clients are brokered to him via phone by a woman’s voice, which originates from a restricted number. As an auditor of criminal enterprises, he accepts payment in various non-cash forms such as rare comics, gold bricks, and paintings by famous artists. Pursuing him is Raymond ‘Ray’ King (J.K. Simmons), the director of FinCEN in the Treasury Department, who recognizes Christian by the alias “The Accountant”. King blackmails young data analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) into helping him identify and arrest the Accountant prior to his retirement, threatening to expose her undeclared criminal past (for the felony of lying on a federal employment application) if she refuses. King’s only leads are Christian’s numerous cover names.
As a child, Christian had been diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism and was offered an opportunity to live at Harbor Neuroscience Institute in New Hampshire. Although Christian had bonded with Justine (Alison Wright), the mute daughter of the institute’s director, his father declined, believing that Christian should overcome the hardships inherent in his condition. The pressure of raising a special-needs child later drove Christian’s mother to leave him and his neurotypical younger brother, Braxton. Their father, an army psychological warfare officer, arranged for them to receive extensive military training around the world, which Christian now uses to protect himself in his dangerous life.
The voice gives Christian his next assignment, auditing robotics corporation Living Robotics, whose in-house accountant, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), has found suspicious financial discrepancies. The company’s CEO, Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow), and his sister and associate Rita Blackburn (Jean Smart) willingly cooperate with Christian’s investigation, while CFO Ed Chilton (Andy Umberger) dismisses Dana’s findings as a mistake. However, after Dana provides him the company’s records, Christian quickly discovers that $61 million has been embezzled from the company. The following night, Chilton, who is diabetic, is confronted in his home by a hitman (Jon Bernthal), who forces him to self-administer a fatal insulin overdose. Later, Lamar surmises to Christian that Chilton embezzled the money and was driven to suicide out of guilt. Upset by Chilton’s death, Lamar closes the investigation, leaving Christian distraught from unfinished work.
Meanwhile, Medina realizes Christian’s cover identities, including his current name, are all famous mathematicians (Carl Gauss, Lou Carroll, and Christian Wolff). Using facial recognition to track the Accountant leads her to a shootout in which several members of the Gambino crime family had been killed. Analyzing a sound recording, Medina isolates Christian’s voice, determining that he is muttering the nursery rhyme Solomon Grundy to himself, a behavior consistent with autism spectrum disorder. The trail leads her to the modest accounting office that Christian uses as a cover: ZZZ Accounting, in Plainfield, Illinois, dividing his profits through four cash-only businesses in his block. She learns that Christian has written off hefty tax returns with donations to the Harbor Neuroscience Institute.
Christian and Dana are targeted for assassination, but Christian kills his own pursuers and rescues Dana, taking her to the trailer where he keeps the only things he values, including an original Jackson Pollock painting among his non-cash payments. While in hiding, they realize that the embezzled money was reinvested in affiliated companies in order to raise Living Robotics’ stock price. Concluding that Rita is behind everything, Christian goes to her house, only to find her dead, murdered by the hitman, who escapes just as Christian is arriving. Thus, Lamar is exposed as the real mastermind.
King and Medina arrive at Christian’s house and find evidence (cameras hidden in bird houses and an M134 minigun in the garage) that he is the Accountant. King reveals that Christian had been arrested after he started a melee at his remarried mother’s funeral that led to his father’s death, taking a deputy’s bullet meant for Christian. In jail, Christian had been mentored by Francis Silverberg (Jeffrey Tambor), a former accountant and fixer for the Gambino crime family, who subsequently became an informant for the United States government. Silverberg was later released and tortured to death by the Gambino family, which drove an enraged Christian to escape from jail and exact revenge on the people responsible.
King confides to Medina that he was present at the shootout and that Christian spared his life after questioning him about being a “good dad”. Afterwards, King had been contacted by the voice and provided with evidence Christian had compiled on criminals who violated his moral code, helping King rise to his position of director. King tells Medina that her investigation of the Accountant has been a test, and she has been selected to replace King, after his retirement, as the voice’s contact in the Treasury Department.
Christian attacks Lamar’s mansion and kills the mercenary guards led by the hitman. After shootout, the hitman recognizes the nursery rhyme that Christian mutters to himself as he tends to his wounds. He confronts Christian and reveals himself to be Braxton, who had become estranged after their mother’s funeral. Still resentful towards their mother for leaving, Braxton blames Christian for getting their father killed. The two reconcile after a hand-to-hand fight, and Lamar shows himself to chastise Christian. After Christian proceeds to kill Lamar without objection from Braxton, the two amiably agree to meet up another time. Later, the voice relays Christian’s evidence on Lamar’s criminal activities to Medina, who has accepted King’s offer, and she dismantles Living Robotics. Christian then bids farewell to Dana by sending her the Pollock (covered up by the painting Dogs Playing Poker, a reference to their initial conversation), and leaves to find Braxton.
In a scene at the Harbor Neuroscience Institute, the voice is revealed to be a computer-generated voice from a powerful computer, given to the Institute as a donation by Christian. The computer is used by a (still mute) adult Justine to communicate, and also fulfill her duties as Christian’s partner.The script is so well crafted this film should be used in writing classes. I guarantee you will not know what’s coming, and after they hit you, they’re going to hit you again, even better. Truly exceptional writing. The acting is also exceptional. Anna Kendrick, J.K.Simmons, and Jon Bernthal really stand out, and for Bernthal it is a change of pace and he carries it off very well. Ben Affleck, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow and Jean Smart do their usual good job.