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Categories: Movie Reviews

Matthew Wilson is here to help crunch the numbers on Ben Affleck’s new character-driven thriller, the mysterious The Accountant.

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Coming out of The Accountant, the best way I could think of to describe it was decent. While it suffers from narrative issues, there is potential here; should the studios decide to take the character into his own franchise. Which it does feel like they’re trying to do.

The film finds Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck), an accountant working in a small loan company; where he’s able to use his mathematical skills to un-cook the books for the world’s deadliest criminals. When his handler sends him towards a legitimate business venture called Living Robotics – an engineering company led by Lemar Blackburn (John Lithgow) and his sister Rita (Jean Smart), who are trying to plug a financial leak – Wolff sees the opportunity to shy away from the spotlight for a little while and teams up with in-house accountant, Dana Collins (Anna Kendrick), who found the leak in the first place.

Elsewhere, semi-retiring Treasury Agent Raymond King (J.K. Simmons) enlists the help of analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to find the identity of a mysterious ‘accountant’, who is linked to numerous criminal organisations, with nothing but a series of back-of-the-head photographs and an audio recording of a gangland massacre.

There’s just a little too much going on. Christian and Dana’s investigation is fine enough to carry the film, even if it’s unclear exactly what purpose the main villain was serving. The Treasury storyline is the biggest issue, it doesn’t add much until a reveal, somewhat, ties it into the main plot.

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Affleck does a solid job with his little tics and mannerisms, effectively portraying a man with a very meticulous way of living but with a trigger fuse ready to go if things don’t work according to plan. What makes Christian work as a hero, despite his illegal dealings, is his code of honour.

Affleck’s also great in the action segments but it’s his body language, the way he comes across so cold and distant in one scene and then confused but humanising in another, that sells everything. Whether or not this becomes a franchise, Affleck’s found himself a strong action persona to get behind.

Director Gavin O’Conner does a fairly good job with what he has, There’s a specific pacing to the film, never feeling the need to rush into action. Rather, letting Christian’s story unfold itself. The film’s few action beats do allow O’Conner to showcase some strong work. Admittedly, he does overdo the autism ‘superpower’, which negates the tension, but, otherwise, the action is well choreographed. There’s a believability in Christian’s abilities to land a headshot nearly every time, to judge how someone will react in any moment and how to get the upper hand in a hopeless situation. It adds a uniqueness to the film that does help it stand out in later scenes.

As much as I don’t want to make the maths pun, The Accountant‘s biggest flaw is that, while all the elements are right, it can’t find a way to make them add up properly. I can’t say any of it is unnecessary. There’s a smart story here and the way everything’s brought together, without needing to spell it out, does give me hope that this is just a pesky origin story. It’s a heavily-flawed but ultimately unique, and entertaining, thriller.

The Accountant is out now in cinemas.

Matthew Wilson

Operating out of Livingston, Scotland, Matthew Wilson has been self-publishing reviews since 2012 - amassing over 1000 and climbing on his personal account at MovieFanCentral- and has produced a number of short films for his Graded Unit at Edinburgh College. Matthew hopes to start writing and directing his own productions one day, having written several unpublished scripts for film and television.

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Posted on Nov 7, 2016

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