Is it just me, or was that first trailer really different than the ones that followed? I mean, trailer one made this out to be a drama about a math genius who can’t quite fit in with everyone else. The rest of the trailers made this out to be like AMERICAN SNIPER (2014) meets THE DEPARTED (2006). Very different movie that ended up getting advertised. Even right now I’m not entirely sure what the movie is about. A smart accountant who works for really bad people, then some girl he meets gets involved and… more shit happens, yeah, I don’t think I followed it very well.
But let’s take a look at the cast. The star attraction is Ben Affleck (BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE , GONE GIRL , and ARGO ). Is there some new trend going around that if you play Batman, a character who is strongly against guns, your next movie has to be a heartless killer with a rifle (referring to Christian Bale’s turn in OUT OF THE FURNACE )? Oh well, I’ve never had a problem with Affleck. You know, ever since THE TOWN (2010), he’s been considered “good,” both in front of and behind the camera. Well, I never had a problem with him pre-2010 or post. I know everyone likes to point at DAREDEVIL (2003) as one of his worst movies, but I didn’t see him as the problem with it. Bad writing and directing are usually the cause of such crap, not the star. He didn’t write or direct that, he was paid to play a role and that was it. And as a kid, I liked that movie. I know it’s not good now, but it’s still enjoyable. In any case, I think he’s a good actor. He’s not the name that guarantees my ass in a seat, but he’s worth watching on screen. Next is Anna Kendrick (THE HOLLARS , PARANORMAN , and 50/50 ). This girl is quickly turning into Samuel L. Jackson; being in everything. Seriously, it’s like every month we get another movie with her. Not that that’s a bad thing; I really like Kendrick. She churns out reliably solid performances whether she’s in comedy or drama. Keep an eye out for her in the upcoming animated movie, TROLLS (2016). Next, J.K. Simmons (ZOOTOPIA , WHIPLASH , and JUNO ). A living legend and probably one of the most versatile and popular actors out there. You know if he’s attached to a movie, it’s going to get a quality performance out of him. What’s not to love? Finally, Jon Bernthal (SICARIO , FURY , and TV show DAREDEVIL). Ever since putting on the famous skull T-shirt and straight murdering criminals in their faces, Bernthal has turned into one of the most popular newer actors now, and that’s saying something considering his popularity in TV show THE WALKING DEAD. I’m all for anything with Bernthal, so long as his role isn’t insultingly small. I hate when that happens to talented actors.
Now for behind the scenes. Directing is Gavin O’Connor, who’s done JANE GOT A GUN (2016), WARRIOR (2011), and MIRACLE (2004). Penning the script is Bill Dubuque. He’s a newcomer, having only previously written THE JUDGE (2014). Composing the music is Mark Isham, who’s done MECHANIC: RESURRECTION (2016), THE CRAZIES (2010), and TV show ONCE UPON A TIME. Finally, the cinematographer is Seamus McGarvey, who previously worked on PAN (2015), THE AVENGERS (2012), and GODZILLA (2014).
Honestly, I think I’m going to like this movie. I know RottenTomatoes has it at a disappointing 44% (as of 10/12/2016), but I seldom agree with RottenTomatoes’ ratings on most things. But I’ve been surprised before, but let’s see what’s in store for me. This is my honest review of THE ACCOUNTANT.
Alias Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) was a struggling autistic kid who grew up with his military father and traveled the world with his brother to learn to fight while squaring away his triggers for panic attacks. Now an adult, Chris is a former military officer, now a forensics accountant who has worked with some of the lowest of lowlife criminal organizations. Taking up a legitimate client this time around, he gets called in to a robotics company, specializing in robotic prosthetics, to look at financial discrepancies, previously discovered by one of their most trusted employees, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick). But the closer he gets to the causes, people start dying and a hit is ordered on Dana, to which Chris responds by protecting her. All the while a Treasury agent named Ray King (J.K. Simmons) and his forced assistant with a past, Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), are hot on his heels to bring him in.
The story has a lot of good ideas, some of them realized, and fantastic performances from all angles, the movie does have a few downsides.
Before we jump into it though, a quick disclaimer about the film. It’s not really an action movie. It has action in it, yes, but it’s pretty far in between. I count maybe only three action scenes. Maybe a little bit more than that, but compared to most shoot-em-ups, that’s pretty tame.
Let’s talk about the downsides first, as I didn’t have too many. The first real problem I had is that the side story involving Ray and Medina isn’t worked in very well in juxtaposition to Chris’. What’s their story? Ray’s been looking for Chris for a long time. He needs the extra help from Medina. Medina is going from place to place, scrounging up clues to where Chris may be holed up. But while all that is going on, Chris is shooting bad guys in the face, trying to save Dana from being killed, they’re on the run, Chris starts developing romantic feelings for Dana, do you spot the problem? One story is significantly more interesting than the other. How long is this movie? A hair over two hours? It’s almost like this side story was added because they knew if they just kept the Chris storyline by itself, the flick would just be an hour long. I won’t say that the payoff for their story wasn’t worthwhile, but it does feel like a really big stretch to get to that finish line.
Capping off this subject, I have two additional issues. First, why does Ray need Medina specifically? I mean, I get that she’s talented in her field, and that he can easily manipulate her into doing what he wants, but is there really no one in her field that’s more experienced and wouldn’t mind aiding Ray in his endeavors? Did I miss a line of dialog or something? Second, Ray isn’t consistently written. Really think about that. From the moment he’s introduced, he’s an asshole. He’s willing to send a woman to jail, a woman with a history that she’s trying to put behind her and do something good with her life, just so he can get a fresh pair of eyes on his case against Chris. The moment the story ends, he’s chill. There’s no moment in the story where he realizes, “Maybe I should relax a little and not be a dick.” In retrospect, that’s how he’s always been: mellow. So… his nastiness in his intro doesn’t feel very justified.
But now it’s time to talk about the positives, of which there are many.
Now, having very little interaction with autistic people (that I know of), I definitely can’t say whether or not Affleck’s portrayal of an autistic person is accurate, the absolute best thing about this movie is creating an autistic action hero, and from what little I know about autism, Affleck seems to have done a very good job with it. He has the compulsive and ritualistic behavior down, self-injury, but I’m assuming that there are varying degrees of autism, more or less severe cases, and Chris’ is, I’m assuming, a less severe case. There are some pretty hard scenes to watch. There’s one instance where he’s figured nearly everything out and the company has no more need of him. They’ve erased his progress, which he’d written all over the walls and glass windows. He claims there’s still more he can do, but the company owner, Lamar Black (John Lithgow), will hear none of it and sends him on his way. Later, Chris is at his hideout and as he’s trying to get sleep, he’s banging his shin with a wooden bar. You see the blood and feel the pain of every impact. My eye was twitching every second and the urge to look away was strong as hell. But the ultimate triumph of the film is that it’s a nice message that his condition doesn’t prevent him from living a normal life. I use “normal” pretty loosely in this case because Chris is killing people rather violently and brutally. I wouldn’t mind a franchise of this being made.
Even the humor is pretty spot on. You have this scene where Chris is protecting this older farm couple from a pair of hitmen. One he kills pretty quickly. He manages to get into a fist-fight with the other one and kills him right in front of the two, successfully saving them. But just before he leaves, he gives the perfect half-baked farewell wave. Jeez, such a little motion, but such a giggle it got out of me.
Kendrick brings her usual contagious energy. When she’s excited about something, you’re excited with her. When she’s scared, you’re scared. When she’s freaking out… it’s actually kind of adorable, but that’s what you’d expect out of her. The humane center of the story.
But more than that, Affleck and Kendrick actually have some legit moments together. There’s this scene, it’s briefly seen in the trailer, where Chris is expressing some sadness that he can’t communicate as well as he’d like. She just… listens to him. She sympathizes, she takes it in, and he’s looking down, looking so vulnerable, it’s a great tender little scene.
Simmons, for all the complaints I had about his character, is a wonderful precursor to our future Jim Gordon in Affleck’s upcoming solo Batman film, THE BATMAN, due out… in the future. He’s a stern, no nonsense kind of cliché, but in the best way possible that only Simmons can make awesome. When he threatens Medina with prison time, you’re slumping in your seat, looking from side to side, wondering if anyone can visibly see the chill running up your spine. Simmons’ presence on screen is that powerful, a true testament to his talent. But beyond that, you know, after that pointless spine-chill, he turns into this man who almost wants to thank “The Accountant” for their previous encounter: sparing his life and what have you, giving him a ton of bad criminals to put behind bars, it’s a pretty cool connection.
Bouncing back to Chris and Dana’s scene, I like how they don’t really hook up. Yes, Dana tries to kiss him, but they don’t go very far. The payoff is Chris looking at a sleeping Dana as he departs, leaving her in safety while he goes out to finish his job and at the end of the story, is off to do Christian Wolff stuff. It’s just a nice little ending for his character.
Oh, and Justine. Best little happy twist. I didn’t see that coming. Really awesome addition. How exactly she’s been so involved in Chris’ actions is anyone’s guess, but as tacked on as it was, it was still pretty cool.
Overall, I would actually like to see this movie again. For the flaws that I saw, it doesn’t hurt the film too badly. It’s entertaining and definitely interesting enough to warrant a second viewing. Some good performances and action make this a recommendation. Maybe not the action movie for the ages, but it’s a good way to kill a couple hours.
My honest rating for THE ACCOUNTANT: 4/5
- CERTAIN WOMEN