Ben Affleck film

Espionage, Alien Toys, and Hart: October 14's New Movies

Friday, October 14, 2016 Rob Samuelson

This weekend looks goofy. Unlike the complicated nature of last week’s big would-be Oscar contender, this time around we get downright breezy. There’s an action thriller, a superhero flick based on some toys, and a refreshing major release of a stand-up comedy special. Let’s get to it.

Photo credit: The Accountant Movie/Facebook

The Accountant
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons

After 2014’s Gone Girl did great at the box office (especially considering its budget), it looks like October might become the “Ben Affleck stars in a thriller” time of the year. In which case, sign me up. Whether The Accountant is any good remains to be seen, but a story about an international spy (Affleck) who may or may not be on the spectrum sounds like it could be deliriously offensive. Sometimes we need that. But if Affleck’s accountant character indeed spends a lot of time cooking the books for various governmental agencies and criminal syndicates, then we might have a problem. Doing math on camera is death. Death, I say!

Director Gavin O’Connor took in some praise for his feel-good Disney hockey flick Miracle about a decade ago, plus his 2011 effort Warrior was received well. However, he’s pulling double duty in 2016, having already released the critical and commercial Western dud Jane Got a Gun. “Spotty” is how one might describe his career, so that should enter your calculus when deciding what to see this weekend.

Max Steel
Director: Stewart Hendler
Writer: Christopher Yost
Starring: Ben Winchell, Josh Brener, Maria Bello, Andy Garcia

Transformers turned every decades-old toy brand into a potential film franchise. This is almost certainly not a great thing for the moviegoing public. Now it’s Max Steel’s turn to grab a piece of the nostalgia pie. The character of Max McGrath (Ben Winchell) fuses body and spirit with an alien named Steel (Josh Brener) and they get super powers -- and a title for a movie.

Charitably, this looks a little tough to sit through. It appears aimed at tween boys, who are a few years behind the 16-year-old protagonist in age and therefore looking for an aspirational figure, so the depth isn’t all there. You may be better off showing them The Thing for the first time and blowing their minds rather than “age-appropriate” work like this.

Kevin Hart: What Now?
Directors: Leslie Small, Tim Story
Writers: Kevin Hart, Joey Wells, Harry Ratchford
Starring: Kevin Hart, Don Cheadle, Halle Berry

It’s fun to see Kevin Hart blow up the way he has. Comedy specials were regularly released in theaters during the heyday of Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, but that practice has largely gone extinct in an age with ever more options to catch at the theater each week. There’s something infectious about Hart, though, that has made him catch on with so many people that it’s seen as a good business idea to launch his newest special, What Now? in wide release.

By now we know generally what to expect: “I’m short” jokes, relationship talk, some experiences with celebrities, etc. Hart’s delivery is so enthusiastic that he sells even his weaker material, so I’d say this one is a solid option for some escapism during this rather trying final month of the election.

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