Friday, October 14, 2016


For all filmmakers, knowing when to keep things simple is always a challenge. Brevity is fine, but keeping things too simple can make for a predictable and ultimately boring film. But making things too complicated can also be a bad thing…as stories can be hard to follow and characters can easily get lost amongst the sea of plot-lines. Such is the challenge for director Gavin O’Connor and THE ACCOUNTANT.

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) grows from a gifted autistic child to be an even more gifted accountant who cooks the books for the mafia and the cartel while becoming a superior marksman and unbeatable hand-to-hand fighter. When Dana (Anna Kendrick) discovers a flaw in the financials of a large corporate robotics company, the head of the company (John Lithgow) hires a hitman (Jon Bernthal) to take out Christian and Dana. Meanwhile, a U.S. Treasury officer (J.K. Simmons) blackmails a younger officer (Jean Smart) to help him bring in Christian.

Much like the profession that it is named after, there is nothing about THE ACCOUNTANT that is simple. Gavin O’ Connor juggles many plotlines; corporate embezzling, a police procedural, Christian’s backstory, a cat-and-mouse game, organized crime, and a statement on autistic people and how they can adapt or be rejected by society…are all weaved in and around and all over. There’s a lot to take in and despite the film’s middleweight-running time of two-plus hours, becomes too much for it to bear. The script, clearly feeling the burden of all the plotlines, actually stops the film dead in its tracks for what seems like forever for one character to sit down and verbalize a ton of endless backstory.

Despite the corporate financial embezzling being like listening to ancient Greek, when THE ACCOUNTANT clicks, it clicks well. Christian Wolff is a fascinating character to watch. He’s socially awkward and withdrawn, and answers all questions with stone-cold logic and brutal honesty (picture Mr. Spock turned up to 11). When the film spends time with him coping with his condition or trying to solve a problem, it’s hard not to be completely engaged. The fight scenes and shootouts are fantastically done; they never go over the top and are presented as real as can be.

Ben Affleck is terrific in the role. He practically vanishes behind his style-less nerd glasses but also disappears into the character. We can tell there’s more going on behind his stone-cold face and quiet demeanor. Anna Kendrick is adorable and acts as a nice foil to Christian, and Jon Bernthal lights up the screen as the flamboyant hitman.

For as unnecessarily complex as the main story is, we are ready forgive a lot during the climactic final fight scene which is tremendous to take in…but then the film dives into a plot twist or two which falls well short of their intended shock value. Both of the reveals are well intentioned but feel like a lazy shortcut to wrap up story threads. As much as the film tries to wrap things up neatly, there are still leftover threads out there when the credits roll; such as Christian’s large leap from autistic child to accountant for the mob, and the Treasury officer blackmailing a younger officer is totally unnecessary. Overall THE ACCOUNTANT gets the job done, even if it is as confusing as a new tax law and deserving of an audit.


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