Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Review: The Accountant

The Accountant
Cert: 15 / 128 mins / Dir. Gavin O'Connor / Trailer

As ever, October is the home of the movies which are high-profile enough to boast A-listers and respected character-actors, but not quite brash enough to weather the Summer or Winter marketplace. And slipping neatly into that bracket is Gavin O'Connor's The Accountant, the story of Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck), a mathematical whizz who runs an accountancy-firm by day and carries out conveniently-moralistic High End Security Work™ during his down-time.

The key plot-mechanic here is that Wolff displays Asperger's Syndrome / High Functioning Autism (while the script tries to shy away from specifically categorising its protagonists exact condition, everything points to that diagnosis). With many other directors and/or actors, the handling of the lead character's Asperger's would have felt more exploitative. Affleck keeps this to an impressive minimum, given that the behavioural quirks his adult-self displays have more to do with harsh parental upbringing than his condition. Not that he suffers an abusive childhood as such, but the film's regular flashbacks certainly show a gruelling one.

When a routine corporation-audit uncovers more than it should, Wolff finds his primary whistle-blower (and by association, himself) targeted by the people who were set to profit from the irregularities. What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse that never quite lives up to the intrigue or intensity that the trailer promises. The Accountant has some truly magnificent moments, but they're heavily padded by a just-above-average action thriller. Affleck's really the attraction here and even so, this probably isn't his best work. Part of the beauty of his performance is that the audience never quite gets to know his character properly. It's in-keeping with the Wolff's issues, but this is also the film's downfall; it's difficult to side with an unpredictable killing-machine, no matter how funny and self-effacing he can be.

Support comes in the form of Anna Kendrick, John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor, JK Simmons, Jon Bernthal and Cynthia Addai-Robinson; each giving fine performances, but you know that any film containing all of them should be absolutely on-fire. The Accountant seems happy to smoulder for a couple of hours, crackling and sparking only when Affleck's on-screen. At over two-hours, the film unevenly paced, but that comes down more to the writing table than the editing-suite. As much as I enjoyed this, I don't think I'd get any more out of watching it again.

Make no mistake, The Accountant isn't a challenging or provocative study of the Autistic spectrum, it's is an action movie. And as the story of a rich, troubled, highly intelligent vigilante with a formidable armoury and strong moral-compass, it makes intriguing comparison-piece for Affleck's forthcoming solo-stint as Gotham's finest…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
There are shades of Nightcrawler in here, but tonally it's probably closer to Prisoners.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Not particularly.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Just about.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Not really.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Not at all.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Well, The Accountant's got a lightsaber in it, in Wolff's lockup. But since that's clearly a Master Replicas version, let's go for Level 2: Jeffrey Tambor stars, and he rocked up in a 1991 episode of The Golden Girls alongside Bea 'Ackmena' Arthur...

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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