Tag Archives: Ben Affleck

The Way Back (2020) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

The Way Back Review
The Way Back Review

Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
Stars: Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Janina Gavankar

There are lots of similar sports movies like “The Way Back“. Moralistic stories about how a trainer manages to bring a floundering team to unprecedented heights. Preferably, the team consists of a few foul-mouthed hotheads who want to impress the others by acting tough. Usually, they have a talent for the sport they practice, but lack of discipline makes them miss constancy. To the annoyance of the appointed coach at that moment. Of course, they are allergic to any type of authoritarian behaviour. Until the new coach comes up. Preferably an old sports star who can look back on a successful sports career and who comes to the rescue by using clever pedagogical techniques. First of all, he gives each of the team members a figurative kick in the butt. Suspends the most rebellious pain in the ass (who of course comes back crawling to ask if he can be re-included in the team because the sport is vital for him). Then the gruelling training sessions begin in such a way that this bunch of misfits finally starts winning games and slowly propel them to stardom. You saw it in “Coach Carter”, “Slap Shot” and to a lesser extent in “Major League”. “The Way Back” follows this same scenario. Only here the coach is also struggling with his personal demons.

I’m not a real Ben Affleck fan. Not that I think he’s a bad actor. Maybe the movie choices he made were a bit unfortunate. With “Daredevil” as the most terrible career choice, in my opinion. But here Affleck shows that he does have acting talent. Perhaps personal life experiences are the reason why he was able to empathise with the role of coach Jack easily. A tormented person who lost everything after a tragic event and sought refuge in drinking. Something Affleck has experience with since he has already admired the inside of a rehabilitation centre several times. Probably because of this that the scenes during which he carelessly drinks, look so realistic. As well as the way he behaves when he’s not in a bar. The manipulation, the sneaking around, and the search for excuses. Typical behaviour of an addict trying to hide his weakness. “The Way Back” tries to portray this addiction meticulously. If you see the umpteenth beer can disappear from the fridge while a spare one is already put in the freezer to stay cold, you as a viewer know that Jack is not a social drinker but a problem drinker with a fixed routine.

Like many other film productions, “The Way Back” has been disadvantaged by the Corona pandemic. Had the original release date not been shifted from late 2019 to March this year, the damage would have been limited. Hence Warner Bros’ decision to release this movie directly on various platforms such as iTunes and Prime video among others. Now, I myself don’t consider it a requirement to watch “The way back” in a cinema. Apart from the admirable acting of Affleck, this film is nothing more than an average film that doesn’t impress in terms of originality. It seems as if a pre-printed checklist has been used for this type of film. A group of young people with a wrong attitude and who, as a basketball team, wallows in the role of the underdog. Check! Ex basketball player whose life is in a downward spiral. Check! Miraculous revival of the despised basketball team. Check! Family tragedy that ruined the coach’s life. Check! Obviously a relapse happens. Check! Once again a miraculous resurgence leading to a happy ending. Check! It feels like a three-pointer every time a check is placed on this list.

In short. The film won’t win a prize in the category of originality. The already well-trodden paths of previously released sports dramas are followed too carefully. But what Ben Affleck demonstrates here (and I know I’m repeating myself) makes that this movie effortlessly exceeds the average. Only the way and period in which he defeated his demons, felt romanticised. And finally, you should not confuse this film with the 2010 film of the same name about a Polish prisoner who could escape from a Russian gulag with some fellow sufferers. The only similarity the Ben Affleck film has with the latter is that the road followed by the group of young people is also full of obstacles. And giving up is also not an option. So if you run into it anywhere on a VOD channel, give it a try. It’s not really a waste of time.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

BATMAN V SUPERMAN

Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Stars: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or “BvS” picks up directly into the climatic battle between Superman and General Zod fighting over the city, but from the perspective of Bruce Wayne (Affleck) who witnesses death and destruction in the midst of the fight to the death between Krypton’s finest.

I have to say that when I decided to review this, I intentionally wanted to do this after my “Man of Steel” review I did a few moths back. That was until fellow Movie Burner Kevan recommend I view the ultimate edition before making my mind up on where I stood with The DCU’s latest instalment.

Coming in at just over 3 hours you could forgive me for telling Kevan to get on his bike after watching the first incarnation (theatrical cut) which I wasn’t to in awe with in the first place. One of the major issues I had with that version was the choppy pacing and plot of the movie. It felt rushed and key elements felt missing. But enough of that. I’m here to review the “Big One” yes as I said, 3 hours of Affleck’s Dark Knight and Cavill’s Son of Jor-El. Did it surprise me? Yes, It did in fact.

Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. This is the basis of the plot and of course the title of the movie. What I liked though was that this was actually a side issue if you please if you look at it from the real villains point of view. Yes Lex Luther played by Jesse Eisenberg is surprisingly unhinged as the famous and traditionally Superman villain. The character at times was a little annoying but to be fair I liked Eisenberg’s take on the character. He was unassuming and unpredictable, key factors in any villainous role.

Affleck’s Batman is possibly the biggest surprise in this movie and an interesting entrance for the latest version of The Dark Knight. You have to appreciate that the last portrayal by Christian Bale of the character was almost perfect in every sense and it was only 2012 that he hung up the cape. Anyone filling those shoes would find it tough to be accepted by the average fanboy. Ben Affleck up to this point was making more heads turn for his writing and directorial work, so you can imagine not everyone was pleased by the appointment. This is why I feel that this Bruce Wayne is interesting in the fact that it isn’t an origins movie (although there are a few flashbacks scenes that don’t necessarily overshadow proceedings). We’re stepping into this characters story somewhere in between a weathered Batman and still has a fight in him Batman. It is shown on screen that he has already lost a sidekick to the joker on on of his displays and I felt this was something different that could be accepted.

Cavill just appears to be made for his role as Clark Kent / Superman in every sense. He was consistent in Man of Steel and really picks up where we last saw him with ease. But it has to be said that the character is a lot darker in BvS. I suppose in the previous film you could get away with the introduction of the character finding his way and place in the world. Here that is established and that is credit to writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer for giving the character another dimension.

The reintroduction to Amy Adams’ Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White and Diane Lane’s Martha Kent cements the continuity from MoS to BvS flawlessly. All three of them have bigger part to play and have enough screen time to make an impact. Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman is something that didn’t need to be there and along with some video footage of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg was there to set us up for The Justice League Movie a year down the line. It didn’t hinder or distract the audience from the storyline. In fact, it excited fans and hinted what was coming next.

The above is basically what I would have said about either version of the film if I’m being honest. The cast wasn’t the issue, nor was the storyline. It felt The had so much material that the decision was made to cut some interesting sequences to narrow the running time down a bit, resulting in a jolting and off the pace movie. This ultimate edition fills the holes in and as a result helps keep the flow of the movie going and keeping you entertained which is strange for a movie this length.

Visually Zack Snyder’s hands are all over this. The graininess of Man of Steel is still evident and I’m glad. The shades and colour schemes once more are like another character in the movie and gives it an edge that I’ve always enjoyed from Snyder. Did the movie still have issues after viewing the extended cut? Of course it did, but this version helped me to enjoy and absorb this universe a little easier. Some of the sub plot wasn’t exactly that interesting to begin with and the whole Martha Kent / Martha Wayne revelation still has me sniggering a bit.

Overall BvS could have been much more. But the Ultimate Edition is the only version I will watch now for its filling in the pacing a bit better and to be honest. The expectation of a Batman/ Superman face off is far greater than what actually came out but I can accept that as I don’t regard this as a bad movie at all. It is entertaining and multiple viewings are required to absorb the plot. If you haven’t seen BvS (any version) I would recommend the ultimate edition. If you have seen the theatrical cut and were initially put off (like me) I would give this one a chance. Recommend.

The Accountant (2016) Movie Review by Kevan McLaughlin

THE ACCOUNTANT

 

Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque 

Stars: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons 

Ben Affleck as a genius, obsessive, problem-solving martial arts expert who spends his time battering people who have contradicted his personal moral code? Nope, it’s not a potential script for the upcoming Batman movie. It’s The Accountant – a beat ‘em up with calculators.

Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a forensic accountant who happens to have a high functioning form of autism. Through a series of flashbacks we see that the young Christian had the opportunity to attend a private institution which specialised in the development of people like Christian. His father believed it would be better for his son to live at home and learn to adjust to the world, rather than expect the world to be kind to him.

Ultimately, this is the decision that led to Christian’s mother to leave her family, presumably because of the pressure in raising a boy with such violent and destructive behaviour along with his younger brother.

His father is in the Special Forces and believes that a life of focused discipline and carefully challenged energy is the key to living a productive life, even for his autistic son. Having his both his sons trained in martial arts and sharpshooting is, in his opinion, the cornerstone Chris and his brother need.

Years later, Chris has used that channeled energy to pursue a rather lucrative career as a forensic accountant with some very questionable clients, given assistance by an unknown woman who only contacts Chris by telephone. Chris is given a contract to audit a state-of-the-art prosthetics corporation, Living Robotics, where discrepencies have been found by their own accountant Dana (Anna Kendrick).

The CEO, Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow) cooperates with Chris, while the CFO and Blackburn’s oldest friend, Ed Chilton, dismisses any findings. Chris uncovers a missing $61 million, leading him to believe that Chilton has stolen from his company and his friend. A hitman (Jon Bernthal) then pays Chilton a visit and forces him to overdose on the insulin he takes for his diabetes.

Ray King (JK Simmons) is the director of FinCEN in the Treasury Department and has recruited Marybeth Medina in tracking down the ‘Accountant’, as he’s known. He’s wanted in connection to a ‘hit’ on the Gambino crime family.

Through a recording at the site of the shoot-out, Medina is able to isolate Chris repeating the Soloman Grundy nursery rhyme over and over, which she suspects is consistent with autistic behaviour. It transpires that King had a brief connection with the Accountant at the site of the Gambino hit when Chris had his gone pointed at him. King, with his back to Chris, was spared when trying to capture the hitman after questioning him about being a “good father”, something King believes drives the Accountant’s own moral code. King further reveals that the woman on the phone had contacted him, revealing secrets about people who “violated” the Accountant’s code and, thus, helped King rise to the position of Director.

When hitmen come after Dana, Chris expertly thwarts their attempt using his acquired skill set expertly. Dana, confused as to how an accountant can take out a team of armed assasins runs and hides with Chris to a lock-up where he’s kept a Streamline trailer filled with cash, gold, passports and other such things he’s been paid in-kind, such as rare comic books and priceless works of art.

It would be easy to dismiss a lot about The Accountant but, in truth, it’s a wonderfully fun action thriller.

The dialogue in the interactions between Affleck and Kendrick is a little sloppy, and most of Chris’ genius stems from a formulaic blend of the clichéd wise fool and an unspecified military education with a 60 second scene of a young Chris training with an old Asian man in martial arts. And there’s a couple of jokes about how he ‘doesn’t get’ things. A bit hackneyed. But that’s just nitpicking. It is a very enjoyable movie, even with a twist that most could see coming from a great distance.

It’s worth it just to see Batman fight the Punisher in a comic book mash-up we’ll never see onscreen again.