REVIEW: Wind River

28 05 2017

Sundance Film Festival

“You should move to a small town, somewhere the rule of law still exists,” stated Benicio del Toro’s Alejandro in the final lines of Taylor Sheridan’s “Sicario” script. “You will not survive here. You are not a wolf, and this is a land of wolves now.” As if picking up exactly where he left off, “Wind River” continues following the journey of a law-abiding law enforcement official into the heart of darkness.

It’s almost a little too eerie how many parallels exist between Emily Blunt’s Kate Macer in “Sicario” and Elizabeth Olsen’s Jane Banner in “Wind River.” Both are female FBI agents sent to perform their duties in a place outside their jurisdiction where previously all-encompassing authority means nothing. For Jane, that’s an Indian reservation in the remote regions of Wyoming. In order to survive, both agents must rely on a more experienced, world-weary male who can serve as her shaman to a more questionable legal territory.

Jane’s guide is Jeremy Renner’s Cory Lambert, who unlike Alejandro in “Sicario,” does not belong to the group with whom he liaises. He is a white man who has gained the trust of the Native American communities by taking the time to understand how they live, a marked contrast from Jane’s treatment of a murder case on their land like it’s just another Las Vegas or Ft. Lauderdale homicide. The film’s most poignant scenes show how Cory can code switch and compartmentalize the many facets of his life. Going from a hunter to a father to “Cap,” as he’s known, takes a toll on his psyche – even if his stoic expressions never reveal such turmoil.

Otherwise, “Wind River” plays like a “Sicario” spinoff with far fewer surprises. The tone, attitude and general plot progression are familiar now and remain mostly unchanged. While the United States’ relationship with the Native American reservations is one that definitely deserves more attention, it lacks the searing topicality of a story set on the Mexican border. Without that heft, Sheridan’s signature terse one-liners like “Luck is in the city” come across as more risible than bone-chilling. B-





REVIEW: The Accountant

11 02 2017

In big-budget cinema these days, I’m looking to get a lot of bang for my buck. So are most Americans, many of whom are far more inclined than I am to browse for a better option on Netflix. Whatever Gavin O’Connor does in “The Accountant” gives me plenty of bang, but the noise comes from lots of big bullets being fired indiscriminately from a sniper rifle.

The film, written by Bill Dubuque, smashes several movies into one. There’s the Jason Bourne-like super assassin narrative, which is the one you sell during sports games. Then there’s the bit about an autistic wunderkind, Ben Affleck’s Christian Wolff, uneasily assimilating into corporate America, which can be emphasized to select audiences to give the film an appearance of thematic heft. And don’t forget an awkward platonic romance subplot between said autistic man and his fumbling co-worker, Anna Kendrick’s Dana Cummings, for … wait, who exactly cares about this aspect?

All of these aspects compete for airtime in “The Accountant” with the latest Greengrass ripoff winning out most often. Whatever extra intrigue that Wolff’s condition might add to the film gets nullified by Affleck’s weak acting, which treats autism like an affect that turns on and off when convenient. The connective tissue of this closet killer to a larger scheme of financial malaise is weak, too, spoiling any chance for a sideshow to serve as pleasant diversion.

In fact, the only thing that O’Connor does manage to do well is advertise. “The Accountant” might represent the most elaborate promo for a Ford F-150 I’ve ever seen. If any clips of these scenes of Wolff driving were posted on social media, I should hope they were tagged with #ad or #sponsoredcontent. C2stars