“Good Time”

The Twilight days are long over for Robert Pattinson. The man is now at chameleon status, disappearing into the role of a blonde sociopath in Good Time.

Connie’s (Pattinson) a lowlife. He lies, cheats, and steals to survive in New York. After his latest heist lands his autistic brother Nick (played by co-director Ben Safdie) in jail, Connie desperately attempts to bail out Nick. He’s ten grand short and most of his loot was ruined by a dye-pack, so now what? Credit card fraud, an amusement park robbery, and selling an acid-laced Sprite bottle sound like a good time.

Ben and Josh Safdie direct Good Time as a fast-paced, neon-drenched heist film. This is a product reminiscent of the 70s New Hollywood and 80s Indie eras. It’s gritty, violent, mesmerizing, and exhausting. It’s also an acquired taste, depending on the viewer’s tolerance of trash cinema.

Good Time begins and ends in Nick’s point of view. His scenes are semi-heartbreaking given he doesn’t understand what’s going on. When Connie interrupts Nick’s therapy appointment, that’s when Good Time is Connie’s show. Pattinson chews up every scene as Connie, whether we root for him or not.

That’s where Good Time suffers. We watch Connie take advantage of his girlfriend’s credit card, make out with a teenage girl, and later sell her out to police. There aren’t any redeeming qualities for Connie as he’s an immoral sociopath. When there is supposed redemption, Connie isn’t there for us to witness it, lacking power.

What Good Time lacks in substance, it makes up in its style. The score is a hypnotic techno score, each shot is filled with color and kinetic energy, and every chase is a thrilling blend of shock and dark humor.

Grade: B+

Advertisements

“Power Rangers”

While watching “Power Rangers,” all I wanted was Krispy Kreme. Mmmmm…. Krispy Kreme….

In Angel Grove, a Breakfast Club ensemble of high school students befriend each other and find strange coins. The students are former football star Jason (Dacre Montgomery), ostracized mean girl Kimberly (Naomi Scott), the autistic Billy (RJ Cyler), new girl Trini (Becky G), and loner Zack (Ludi Lin).

The coins empower these kids and lead them to an ancient being named Zordon (Bryan Cranston), who trains them to be the next Power Rangers, protectors of the galaxy. Meanwhile, alien invader Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) searches for the Zeo Crystal in her plot for world domination.

“Power Rangers” isn’t an original film since it borrows heavily from “Man of Steel” and “Chronicle.” While those films were overly destructive, brooding, and cynical, “Power Rangers” depicts the optimistic side of one discovering powers. Sure, there’s some cheese, but that’s part of the fun.

“The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” was always a cheesy show with mindless action, but it had heart and great messages about diversity and friendship. “Power Rangers” maintains these messages, even when it occasionally treads on the dark side.

The original series depicted the characters as these perfect, popular kids, but in “Power Rangers,” they’re far from that. Jason is an outcast for letting down Angel Grove’s football team, Kimberly is guilt-ridden over a prank, Zack ditches school to take care of his mom, Billy’s often bullied for his disability, and Trini is afraid of coming out to her parents.

Any writer could have written these sensitive arcs in a juvenile fashion, but writer John Gatins (“Kong: Skull Island”) handles them maturely and realistically. All the rangers feel like kids and not caricatures. The cast does well with their roles, especially RJ Cyler as Billy (I related to him the most).

Elizabeth Banks steals the show as Rita Rapulsa and is clearly having a blast on camera. Whether she steals gold, brag about her plan, or eats a Krispy Kreme doughnut, she rocks.

Speaking of Krispy Kreme, “Power Rangers” over kills Krispy Kreme product placement, but it weirdly suits the plot and tone of the movie. It’s more charming than annoying. I would say the only let down of “Power Rangers” was the action was lackluster (lots of slow-mo, fast-mo fight scenes). But good news is there’s an upcoming sequel, which means room for improvement.

Grade: B+

“The Accountant”

Of the two Ben Affleck-helmed action flicks this year, I’ll take the non-Batman one. Still not happy between my options.

“The Accountant”stars Affleck as Christian, an accountant with a high-functioning form of autism. While he appears to be an average accountant, he moonlights as an assassin for criminal organizations. This is why the corrupt robotics company CEO (John Lithgow) should regret crossing him.

“The Accountant” is directed by the underrated Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior,” “Miracle”), and he’s a talented filmmaker. He’s a rare genre director, who makes unconventional action movies that are more about drama than the action sequences. The action scenes are spectacular in “The Accountant,” but they don’t top Affleck’s nuanced performance.

Affleck is quiet, expressive, and tragic as Christian. We get a sense of pain in his eyes whenever he’s alone. The backstory behind his character is far fetched, but still intriguing enough. The entire film has a problem between staying gripping and ridiculous.

The psychological study of Christian is the film’s selling point, but we spend more than half the movie focused on his cliched relationship with another accountant (Anna Kendrick). We also have JK Simmons as a seasoned treasury agent from Christian’s past, but all of his scenes are just exposition with no resolution.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!

I admired the unconventional style of “The Accountant” between its twist-filled story, dramatic pacing combined with quick bursts of violence, and its puzzle-like cinematography. But the sloppy final act ruined my liking.

The last twenty minutes is where “The Accountant” completely falls apart. Simmons is introduced as a potential antagonist, but in the end, he’s a redeemed secondary protagonist without development. There’s a predictable twist behind a rival assassin (a wonderfully over-the-top Jon Bernthal) that made the climax anti-climactic. Lastly, the final twist in the end was ludicrous.

If there’s a sequel to “The Accountant,” I’ll see it for clarification. For now, we’re stuck with a miss.

Grade: C+