SIDE NOTE: In our WordPress blogging adventure, Milo’s decided to venture into guest work, and Jason (from Jason’s Movie Blog – there’s a link at the bottom, mate) was the first guy we asked. Milo’s now doing some stuff for him, and he’s doing some stuff for us. Cool? Yeah.
Actor Ben Affleck has run the Hollywood gambit for many years, placing himself in a career that as fans and movie acolytes follow him through various film projects. Like all Hollywood actor hopefuls, Affleck started out in his career in smaller films or supporting roles in movies like Glory Daze, Chasing Amy, and Good Will Hunting. After amassing a theatrical body of work, Affleck went on to star in more big budgeted films or well-placed feature films gave him more of central role. These includes Pearl Harbor, The Sum of All Fears, Gone Baby Gone, and Gone Girl just to name a few. In addition, Affleck has even stepped into the realm of superheroes, with such films as Daredevil and (more recently) in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He’s even gone behind the camera and has directed several films, including Argo, The Town, and the upcoming 2017 feature Live by the Night. Now, Warner Bros. Pictures and director Gavin O’Connor, present Ben Affleck newest character role in the movie The Accountant. Is this movie worth checking out or does it get lost in its own “follow the money” trail?
As a young boy, Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. Rather than being nurtured by therapy in learning how to cope with the disability, his military father (Robert C. Treveiler) puts Christian through a hardship of experiences, valuing the many violence of the world as a way to hone his son’s autism. With a gift for mathematics and numbers, Christian becomes an accountant, but one who lives a life by himself, seemingly helping clients as he keeps control over his secretive life. In reality, Christian’s life is a dangerous one, playing the “go-between” for power leaders / figure heads who need their finances straightened, with robotics tycoon mogul, Lamar Black (John Lithgow), as his new client. While standoffish and distant, Christian find warmth in Dan Cummings (Anna Kendrick), but their friendship is cut short when she’s targeted for assassination, opening her eyes to Christian’s life and the way he conducts business. With Christian and Dana are on the run, tracked by the brash hitman Brax (Jon Bernthal), and trying to even the score, U.S. Treasury Director Ray King (J.K. Simmons) tasks new hire Agent Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to learn everything she can about the shadowy man known as “The Accountant”.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
With my love of movies, I’ve seen plenty of films with Ben Affleck in them. While I do remember seeing him in Good Will Hunting, I think my first introduction (and memorable) to Affleck as an actor was probably in Michael Bay’s Armageddon (I know, I know, it’s nothing cinematically great, but it’s popcorn flick classic. From then, I’ve seen many of his other film projects, with Gone Girl, The Town, and Argo being my favorite. I even like him as Bruce Wayne / Batman in. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I remember seeing the trailer for The Accountant many (and I do mean many) times when I usually go to the movie theaters to catch a movie. Basically, I know the trailer by heart and hearing the song “Everything In Its Right Place” by Radiohead (Gigamesh Remix) is now permanently stuck in my head, which is not a bad thing…haha. Anyways, seeing it so much, I was definitely curious as it grabbed my attention and interest in wanting to see this movie. So what did I think of it? Well, while given terrific performance from Ben Affleck and some other nuances, The Accountant comes off as an undeveloped feature that’s a cross between a Bourne movie and A Beautiful Mind, but to a lesser degree on both parts. It’s still watchable but not as engrossing as I wanted it to be.
The Accountant is directed by Gavin O’Connor, who has previously directed the films Miracle, Jane Got a Gun, and Warrior (love that movie!). Interestingly, O’Connor and Bill Dubuque, the film’s screenplay writer, present a feature that unique with a main protagonist that has some form of mental disability (i.e. Christian’s High Functioning Autism). From his idiocracy manners and therapeutic “nightly” relieves to his withdrawn disposition persona, it’s a very intriguing character, one that does effectively plays off in being likeable and sympathetic. This is also thanks to the actor who plays him (more on that below). It also helps that O’Connor utilizes flashback sequences (sprinkled throughout the movie) to help shed light on Christian’s upbringing in childhood, dealing with parental issues and his violent ways of how his father hones his (Christian’s) autism disability. Presentation-wise, the movie is filmed and crafted in a favorable light, with slick camera movements and angles and choreographed action scenes and fighting movements. As a side-note, I do have to mention the sound mixing team behind the movie. Hearing some of the sounds of the gun bullets was pretty awesome to hear and added that extra “kick” as they were being fired.
The Accountant, unfortunately, doesn’t reach its intended goals, despites its promising marketing campaign (i.e. its movie trailers). Personally, what I think the biggest culprit comes in the form is the narrative itself, which has multiple “offshoot” problems. With action, drama, and comedy all being blended into the film’s story, O’Connor can’t find the balance between its various genres. Thus, each one feels adequate at best. Even the classic elements found The Accountant (i.e. a broken family, the so-called “outsider” finding his place in the world, the crass and deadly hitman, etc.), all seem too generic and don’t come off as powerful as they could’ve been presented. Next, the film’s plot is a little convoluted and confusing. At one point, I didn’t know what was going on in the movie as it took me a bit to “connect the dots” (and usually I’m pretty good at following a movie). Another problem is the film’s sub-plot, which involves the U.S. Treasury, involving the character King and Medina in their hunt for Christian…The Accountant. Ultimately, this side story in the movie is unnecessary, offering up a few bits of information (filling in the narrative’s gaps), but doesn’t really go anywhere. In truth, there’s one scene in this subplot (roughly around the end of the second act) where there’s heavy exposition, which attempts to bring certain events to light, but just across as tedious and boring, with great lull in the movie’s duration. Literally, it’s like 7 to 10 minutes of explaining things. Then there’s the movie’s twists and turns that are fairly easy to catch. An example of this was one character (I’m not going to say the name), so let’s call him character X. They keep on showing character X at various points, so (eventually), with the movie entering its third act, it’s obvious that character X is going to be revealed in some surprised and shocking revelation, which it did. Tacking on to that, the ending seems a bit unimpressive. It ties everything up (mostly), but it just seems lackluster in its presentation, leaving a lot of the film’s mystery resolved in a somewhat unsatisfying way.
The big question of the movie is how does Ben Affleck fare in the movie as Christian Wolff, The Accountant’s central protagonist? In truth, he actually does it quite well, pulling off one of the better and a bit more memorable role in his career. The character of Christian calls for a cold and distant persona, but also endearing and likeable and Affleck pulls that off beautifully, creating a very endearing savant that’s multi-layered with subtlety and some great acting cues (i.e. not to overact the character and conveying more through facial expressions and body language). Interestingly, Affleck is funny with his deadpan comedy, proving to be some of the more lighthearted moments in an otherwise action / drama feature. Of course, as show in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Affleck can also handle himself in action scenes when necessary. All in all, Ben Affleck’s performance of Christian Wolff is probably the best thing in The Accountant. I do have to mention that the young actor who plays the younger Christian Wolff (Seth Lee) delivers an excellent performance, especially expressing the mental issues of a child with high functioning Autism. As a side note, actor Robert C. Treveiler does a fair job at playing Christian’s strict military father.
Behind Affleck (in terms of standout role in The Accountant) is actress Cynthia Addai-Robinson as the recently new hire agent Marybeth Medina. With most of her most notable work found on TV (see Starz’s Spartacus and CW’s Arrow), Addai-Robinson gives the feature film forum to display her acting ability on the big-screen. It’s not an Oscar-nomination role, but it’s nice to see mostly television star get a large supporting role in a movie. Actress Anna Kendrick, known for playing in the Pitch Perfect movies as well as Up in the Air and Mr. Right, plays Dana Cummings, a junior accountant at Lithgow’s robotics firm. It’s not really a stretch or groundbreaking performance from Kendrick, but she gets the job done and a favorable light. She even does a good job at playing off of Affleck’s deadpan quips. However, her somewhat romantic connection to Affleck’s Christian is a bit clunky and forced. I’m not saying that its Kendrick’s fault nor is it Affleck’s, but more on O’Connor (and his writers) for “shoehorning” a feigned romance spark in the story.
Following her is actor Jon Bernthal (the new iteration of Frank Castle on Netflix’s The Punisher), who plays the hitman Brax. Like Kendrick, it’s nothing new for the actor, but Bernthal does well in the action oriented scenes and has does have a sort of magnetic on-screen presences and keeps the character unpredictable and bit humorous, despite his deadly work as an assassin. Recent Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons’s character Ray King (the U.S. Treasury director) doesn’t have growth in the story, projecting a, more or less, one-dimensional supporting character. However, Simmons functions in the role perfectly and does a good job as the classic “authoritative” government figure in the feature. Likewise, (in larger cameo-like appearances), is actors John Lithgow and Jeffery Tambor, playing Lamar Black and Francis Silverberg respectfully. These two do a good in their roles, but the script doesn’t give them much of anything to work with to be memorable. And that seems to be the problem with a lot of the supporting players in The Accountant as each one is talented, but aren’t afforded growth in their characters or nothing particularly new from what we (the viewer) have seen before in their other projects.
Who is Christian Wolff or rather… Who is the elusive “The Accountant” in the movie The Accountant? Director Gavin O’Connor newest film delivers an interesting character study feature, with a great (and unusual) protagonist, a likable cast, despite some of them being stock characters, and an interesting premise. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t work the way its suppose to, feeling a bit slow (at various parts), tedious / convoluted in its story, and a tad predictable in its twists and turns. To me, it was an okay film that had some positives, but could’ve been better and didn’t live up to my expectations, which I admit were a bit high. Thus, my recommendation for this is an iffy choice at best or maybe a rental (depending on how much want to see this movie). While Affleck was excellent in the movie, it’s just not enough to save or to warrant The Accountant from getting a franchise tag (if it was seeking one), settling for a meekly action / drama endeavor… Heavy sigh!
The Accountant is rated R for strong violence and language throughout for the USA, and 15 BBFC for those of us in the UK.