Movie Review: ‘The Accountant’ (Second Opinion)
Plot: Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a highly functioning autistic man who un-cooks the books for some of the highest profile criminals in the world. Asked to investigate missing money for a legitimate global tech company by founder Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow), Wolff finds a discrepancy that could prove deadly. Aided by fellow accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), the duo soon find themselves on the run from nefarious forces looking to take them out. Meanwhile, Ray King (J.K. Simmons), Director of Financial Crimes at the Treasury Department, seeks to track down Christian and bring him to justice before retirement. Alongside him is Marybeth Medina ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson), an analyst King is blackmailing. Christian and Dana must find a way to illude both parties before they end up in jail or end up dead.
Read Gfunk’s review right here!
Review: Ben Affleck is certainly a busy man. Earlier this year, he donned the cape and cowl for BvS, he just wrapped production on Justice League, and he’s got Live by Night, his directorial follow-up to Argo, slated to hit limited release next month. And if that wasn’t enough he starts filming the solo Batman film next year. Amidst this chaos (seriously DAMN) he also managed to squeeze out director Gavin O’Connor’s (Warrior) latest film The Accountant. And I GUARANTEE you it’s a role unlike you’ve ever seen Affleck do before.
I’ve been a fan of director Gavin O’Connor since Miracle and Warrior is one of my favorite films of all time. After the disappointing Jane Got A Gun, O’Connor returns to form here with The Accountant. Slick, thrilling, and fast-paced, The Accountant proves to be an excellent movie reminiscent of classic 80s thrillers. O’Connor even manages to make the exposition parts of Bill Dubuque’s script interesting. For example, King’s recollection of his ascendency in the Treasury Department is quite long and yet it’s told in brilliant flashback sequences that are as white-knuckled as they are emotional.
Agendas seem to rule the day in The Accountant. Everyone has one. King blackmails Medina in order to find Christian, ostensibly because he wants to go out with one final big bust. However, it becomes evident as the story progresses that he shares a past with Christian. I have to say I’m thrilled that I’m starting to see J.K. Simmons pop up in more movies after his Oscar winning performance in Whiplash, his appearance in Terminator: Genisys not withstanding. I’ve loved him since his days on HBO’s Oz and I’m glad to see he’s getting his due. Addai-Robinson’s Medina meanwhile remains an idealist, her only goal to bring Christian to justice. Medina believes Wolff to be a criminal despite some of his more noble intentions. I’ve never seen Addai-Robinson in anything before, but if The Accountant gets a sequel (which is possible, it’s already tripled its budget in box office returns) she’ll prove a worthy adversary to Christian. Even Blackburn’s desire to take his medical robotics company public isn’t as altruistic as it’s chalked up to be.
In fact the only person who doesn’t seem to have an agenda is Christian. I can’t tell you how good and how important Affleck’s performance was. It’s very rare we see a highly functioning autistic on the big screen and I can’t for the life of me understand why he’s taking so much flak for this. I know that the big buzzwords nowadays are “inclusion” and “diversity,” which I’m all for and which Affleck’s Wolff fits to a T. Heretofore the most memorable autism representation we’ve seen on screen came from Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. With Affleck we see a man who’s just slightly different–quieter, more introspective, slightly OCD, distant, emotionally subdued–all things that highly functioning autistics can experience on a day-to-day basis. Yet despite all that, Christian longs for real human connection. He’s not a robot like outward appearances may suggest. It’s important that audiences and people in general see Christian for what he is–a human being.
Moreover, The Accountant proves to be good social commentary on how society treats autistic people, or people who are different in general. Over a series of flashbacks we see how Christian’s family deals with his condition. Rather than expose Christian to people who’d be able to help him live a reasonably normal life, Christian’s military father refuses, and gives his son a “tough love” childhood. For example at one point Christian’s father forces him and his brother to assault some kids who insulted them earlier. Later, Wolff’s father has them train with an adult martial artist to the point that they are bruised bloody. It gets so bad that eventually Christian’s Mom abandons the family altogether. The Accountant is a glaring example of autistic stigma and how not approaching the condition in a proper way can wreak havoc.
Don’t let the social commentary throw you however. This movie is by no means preachy or over the top when it comes to autism. It actually comes off very organic in nature. In any event this is first and foremost a thriller. Affleck’s Wolff is just a super-cool and nuanced character. He’s an expert at martial arts and weapons but also loves Jackson Pollack paintings and classical music. He’s a Star Wars nerd and death metal fan but also loves crunching numbers and helping the disenfranchised. Christian Wolff is an intriguing and mesmerizing character that you root for. Mark Isham’s score draws you in and harkens back to the thriller scores of the 80s. Meanwhile Richard Pearson’s editing is tight and balanced. Director Paul Greengrass ruined thrillers with shaky cam. In this instance you can actually see the fights. What a novel concept!
Also a novel concept? Final confrontations. How often over the last fifteen years have there been instances in movies where the protagonist and antagonist don’t get to meet in some final duke out. The reverse was true in the 80s and early 90s. Predator, Rambo, The Terminator, Universal Soldier, Blood Sport–all of these had great climactic clashes. Fortunately the same holds true with The Accountant as Christian tussels with a hit man known only as “The Assassin” (Jon Bernthal) and it’s epic, even if the “twist” is a little expected. Bernthal excels at playing morally ambiguous characters (Daredevil, The Walking Dead, The Wolf of Wall Street) and for good reason. He’s delightfully malicious here.
The Accountant really only has two drawbacks. At almost two hours and twelve minutes it’s slightly long. O’Connor could have easily trimmed 10 minutes off this movie and it would have been fine. Secondly, Anna Kendrick really brought nothing to the table as Dana Cummings, a fellow accountant who gets caught up in Christian’s escapades. Her cute, awkward, “every girl” shtick is starting to get old. I found her more annoying than anything else. Is Anna Kendricky a word? Maybe it should be.
However, don’t let these minor sins prevent you from attending The Accountant‘s glorious cathedral. It’s a top-rate thriller and I for one would love a sequel.
My rating: 9/10
Would I: A) Buy this movie B) Accept as a gift C) Burn on site Answer: A
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