Sunday, November 6, 2016

Ben Affleck Becomes The Accountant And Makes An Engaging Crime Thriller!

The Good: Impressive acting, Good balance between action and intelligent storytelling, Good character study
The Bad: Light on character development for supporting characters, Director telegraphs the villain
The Basics: The Accountant is a well-developed crime thriller that has law enforcement and assassins on the trail of a forensic accountant who works for the world's most dangerous clients.

There are very few movies that get me intrigued enough to watch them based upon the previews, but during one of the recent awards shows, there were previews for The Accountant that actually hooked me. The Accountant is a Ben Affleck crime thriller that plays into the current obsession in popular culture with presenting characters who have conditions like autism.

Following a trail of bodies into a crime scene, The Accountant flashes back to 1989 an a neuroscience laboratory, where Christian Wolff is diagnosed as having a disorder relating to his sensory sensitivity. His parents are resistant to leaving him with the doctor there, but when he freaks out over being unable to finish a puzzle because it is missing a single piece, they capitulate. Wolff grows up to be an accountant, where he helps poor people with getting the most back on their taxes. At the Treasury Department, Ray King brings in Marybeth Medina to extort her do become an agent for the Treasury Department working under him. Wolff is a forensic accountant who has worked for a slew of shady organizations around the world to uncook the books and discover who has stolen millions from those organizations.

Wolff is hired by Living Robotics, Lamar Black's company, when a junior staff member uncovers an irregularity in the books. Wolff arrives at Living Robotics where he is teamed with Dana Cummings, who noticed the money was missing. In a single night, Wolff discovers a leak at Living Robotics of more than sixty million dollars. While Wolff is figuring out who is embezzling at Living Robotics, Brax is assassinating his way through corporate criminals, including the CFO of Living Robotics. Wolff is upset when he is paid off before actually finishing the job at Living Robotics. When assassins come after Christian and Dana, Wolff prepares to liquidate his entire life and disappear, but he goes to save Dana first. In saving Cummings, Wolff finds himself embroiled in the mystery of who stole the $61 million and was returning it to Living Robotics.

Packed with flashbacks, The Accountant tells the story of Christian Wolff by illustrating his rough childhood to show how he came to be a forensic accountant. Wolff's childhood was complicated by a military father and a mother who could not handle the stress of raising Christian after she learned how difficult his disorder would make life. After his mother left, Christian ended up in prison, where he was mentored by Francis Silverberg in how to survive in the black market. Between that and his proficiency in long-range target shooting, Christian Wolff's character is very well-established before much of the film's action begins.

Playing opposite Wolff's narrative is Marybeth Medina's search for Wolff, during which she learns of the checkered aspects of his past, including a killing spree he went on in New York City where he took out key members of a crime family. Medina is hunting for a man believed to be an enemy of the state who essentially aided terrorists, as part of King's desire to end his career in a blaze of glory.

The Accountant affords Ben Affleck a chance to play a very different style of character than he usually does. While Christian Wolff does not give him the chance to go very far outside his wheelhouse, Affleck is able to show off a lot of his ability to perform in a nuanced way in The Accountant. Affleck manages to present the socially-awkward, sensory-challenged Christian Wolff as well-rounded, not stiff. Affleck manages to portray Wolff as socially-awkward, but not stiff. Affleck gives a measured, subtle performance unlike many of his other roles.

The hunt for Wolff by Medina does not give Cynthia Addai-Robinson a lot of a chance to perform. Medina reacts to a lot of exposition that uncovers who Wolff is and what he suffers from. Addai-Robinson is good at emoting for the reaction shots, but Medina's characterization is very quickly established and - because she is being extorted - does not truly grow or develop.

Director Gavin O'Connor weaves together an engaging narrative, though he does so in a way that telegraphs the primary antagonists almost immediately. While J.K. Simmons portrays Ray King as an initial adversary for Wolff, the performances of two others reveals something darker in their characters. Simmons gets through the exposition that reveals his character's backstory in an engaging way, but O'Connor keeps the film's actual antagonists as surprisingly monolithic.

The Accountant features one of the all-time best on-screen assassins as Christian Wolff smartly double taps in all of his close-range kills and his ability to focus in environments that would overload other people's senses make for a plausible killer who is able to perform in the dark, smoke, and loud environments. The Accountant might not have much in the way of deeper themes or compelling reversals, but it is solidly entertaining and general well-made!

For other movies currently in theaters, please check out my reviews of:
Oasis: Supersonic
My Blind Brother
Cardboard Boxer
The Whole Truth


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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