Punch Drunk DVDs: 'The Accountant', 'The Birth Of A Nation', 'Deepwater Horizon', And More!


Ben Affleck stars as math savant Christian Wolff, an antisocial accountant with a secret to hide. Under the cover of his small-town accounting firm, he discreetly manages the finances of some of the world’s most dangerous criminals. After learning that the Treasury Department is close to finding him out, Wolff takes on a seemingly normal client in an attempt to cover his tracks. Of course, he soon discovers a deep conspiracy inside the company he’s working for, and finds himself caught in the center of what turns out to be his deadliest job yet.

We Said: “Penned with a noir-ish touch by Bill Dubuque, The Accountant balances its fantastical elements with the dramatic, character-driven aspects nicely. Although the pace is a little slow and some of the big reveals telegraphed, it’s helped by an all-around stellar cast. […] Taken as a whole The Accountant seems utterly ridiculous, but it's the smaller details that count.” Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Good: The Accountant is equal parts intense character drama and spy thriller B-Movie, both of which are frequently entertaining. It’s a pretty smart movie, with some interesting ideas and characters interacting in some rather well-written scenes of dialogue. It’s also a fun action movie, with exciting car chases and fist fights that are also filmed nicely. There’s some impressive performances from its ensemble cast, and truly exciting stunt work scattered around as well.

The Bad: While both the dramatic moments and the action scenes work on their own, when placed in the same movie you get a pretty inconsistent story that’s rather hard to stay invested in. Just when the movie has you interested in its violent espionage plot, it moves over to the character-driven dialogue scenes, and then back again. Both of the movies it’s trying to be are cool, but together it’s incredibly tone deaf. The problem only intensifies as the film reaches its conclusion, which is kinda messy.

Overall: A really good premise, some interesting characters and performances, campy action, and intense drama are all randomly meshed together into The Accountant, and somehow, it mostly works. It’s a very unusual movie.

Based on true events and the life of enslaved priest turned revolutionary Nat Turner, Birth of a Nation tells the story of how he came to lead his violent and historic slave rebellion in 1831.

We Said: “While [writer/director/star Nate] Parker is tremendously charismatic and passionate as Turner, his inexperience as a director still shows in some of the smaller details. The film is clearly designed for broad audience appeal, and as such it plays out in conventional beats. Granted, some of this could be the lack of real information about much of Turner's life, so the blank spaces were filled with familiar tropes. […] Parker seems poised for greatness whether The Birth of a Nation winds up the Oscar picture many expect it to be. Whatever its fate, the film is a heroic accomplishment that tells one of the great unsung black stories with all of the justice it deserves.” Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Good: Obviously this is an incredibly important and difficult story to see played out on film. First time filmmaker Nate Parker handles the majority of this film with great respect, beautifully showing us the lives of the people affected by these horrors in some of the most compelling and powerful scenes of the year. There are gorgeous shots and scenes of dialogue scattered throughout this brutal historical drama, but the most impressive aspect of Birth of a Nation has to be the harrowing performances given by everyone in the cast. Each character gets a moments or two that will truly break your heart, and stick with you for a long time after the movie is over. It’s a very powerful and horrifying film.

The Bad: Most of Birth of a Nation is carefully constructed and tastefully presented, but there are several scenes that cross that line entirely. It’s as if it randomly becomes a violent action movie at times, throwing away the somber realism it had been achieving. There are also extended visual metaphors that don’t land, lines that sound forced, and several other surprisingly weak moments in this otherwise well-told story.

Overall: Nate Parker’s film is far from perfect, but it is mostly well made. When it stays focused on important and underappreciated historical events, we see as much care and thoughtfulness as the first time filmmaker could manage. Maybe his next movie will be stronger, but until then, Birth of a Nation makes for a solid introduction, and a brutal lesson in our nation’s history.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, igniting a massive fireball that kills several crew members. Chief electronics technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) and his colleagues find themselves fighting for survival as the heat and the flames become stifling and overwhelming. Banding together, the co-workers must use their wits to make it out alive amid all the chaos.

We Said: “You wish Deepwater Horizon had spent more time on the environmental impact of the spill, or on the punishments (or relative lack thereof) meted out against BP and Transocean. [Director Peter] Berg's tendency to push his own patriotism on us is also pretty distracting. […] The missteps are minor, especially in light of a movie that could have been a disaster in its own right. But Berg's heart was always in the right place and the story told in Deepwater Horizon gives the survivors and victims a chance to finally be recognized.” Rating: 3.5 out of 5