The Accountant (2016)

I always intended to hit this one up when it hit The Big Screen, but for some reason, Life got in the way…and I missed it. I generally like Ben Affleck, both as an actor and as a writer / director, so that had my attention already, but I was also intrigued by the high-concept premise: autistic accountant (who’s brilliant, in that Movie Autism way) moonlights as an assassin and gets caught up in a murderous conspiracy. If I remember correctly, this one received a mix of ‘good’ and middle-of-the-road level reviews, and it did turn a nice profit – $155 million worldwide on a $44 million budget. So again Netflix surprised me by dumping it onto their roster out of the blue, and I made a point to pencil a viewing in sometime shortly thereafter. So here I am, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, all by my lonesome (the Better Half is out of town on business), so I fired up a mocha at 7:30am…and then fired up ‘The Accountant‘.
The Accountant‘ focus’ on a high-functioning autistic accountant named ‘Christian Wolff‘ (Ben Affleck), who also acts as a very capable and very dangerous operative, mixing with and frequently eliminating undesirable types in the criminal underworld. A top robotics firm legitimately hires him to scrutinize their books, due to a worrisome anomaly having been discovered by a junior accountant named ‘Dana‘ (Anna Kendrick). In no time flat, ‘Chris‘ has already narrowed down the root of the problem, which appears to be a severe case of embezzlement. This prompts alarm among certain parties and soon armed goons, lead by a very savvy mercenary named ‘Brax‘ (Jon Bernthal) are coming out of the wood-work in hot pursuit. While ‘Chris’ and ‘Dana’ work to out-maneuver the assailants, a Treasury Department analyst named ‘Agent Medina‘ (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) is black-mailed into opening an under-the-radar investigation into a mysterious figure who’s turning up in law enforcement intelligence, by her boss, ‘Ray‘ (JK Simmons). These two plot-lines eventually converge, along with a couple others, in a surprisingly cool denouement.
Right off the bat, I’ll just say that I got what I hoped I’d get from ‘The Accountant‘. I walked away (or just hit STOP, if I’m being honest) feeling very satisfied with what I’d seen, and I would be curious to see if a sequel comes out of this, as the material is ripe for it.

So like I said, I grabbed my notepad as I slurped on a coffee and hit PLAY

Cool, intriguing intro. I like flicks that throw me into a tense situation, with no preamble or explanation. SOMETHING’s happening, and you have to figure it out. That’s how this begins, following an unidentified character on the path of a bloody Mafia massacre though a building. It was tense and well-shot, and I was hooked.

More autism. Handled well? I just recently suffered through the unfortunate shit-show that Shane Black’s ‘The Predator’ turned out to be, and Autism was a major (and stupid) plot-point in that abomination and I was weary about sitting through more. Despite definitely NOT being an expert on neurological disorders, I found the portrayal of the ailment to be not terrible here. It felt more properly researched and acted in order to use it semi-believably in service of the script. In some respects, I was reminded of Nicolas Cage’s last good character (IMO), ‘Roy‘, from Ridley Scott’s criminally-overlooked ‘Matchstick Men’ (2003), another less-than-law-abiding who operates with his own ingrained quirks and issues. BTW – if you haven’t seen ‘Matchstick Men‘, I HIGHLY recommend it. Great flick.

Cool hideout. Winnebago. Pretty much says it right there. ‘Chris‘ has a sweet assassins ‘man cave‘ inside a Winnebago that he keeps locked in a storage unit. It just made sense for his character and plays a logical role in the plot. I also liked that he kept comics and pricey works of art, along with his scary arsenal of firearms.

Good cast. Lithgow. Tambor. Bernthal. As I listed off earlier, there are some impressive faces in this flick, who turn in some solid performances. Despite thinking she’s sexy and adorable, I haven’t seen much of Anna Kendrick, but I liked what she brought here and her awkward-but-charming chemistry with Affleck worked, in my opinion.

There’s a precision to the cinematography. Noticeable symmetry. As a reflection of the rigidly structured manner in which ‘Chris’ lives / operates, a lot of thought seems to have been put into maintaining a near-clinical presentation, where the shot compositions were concerned, which worked nicely in context.

Interesting chemistry with Kendrick. As I alluded to earlier, I thought Affleck and Kendrick had a nice chemistry that evolved over the 2 hour 8 minute run-time. It started off mildly antagonistic and amusing, and warmed as the stakes around them grew more dire. It worked for me.

Music reminds me of the ‘Thomas Crown Affair’. I LOVE the John McTiernan-helmed romantic comedy caper from 1999, and a big part of why is the charming and fun use of an upbeat and fun music score. There was a section here that had a very similar sound…and I smiled.

Bernthal’s a good hitman character. Charismatic but dangerous. I’ve liked Jon Bernthal for the majority of his career. The character of ‘Brax‘ capitalizes on two of Bernthal’s strongest traits; charisma and menace. Here he exudes both and does so very effectively. As a result of what we were given and what is revealed about his character, I wish we got to find out more about him.

Roles like this make me wish Affleck would drop Batman. Lately there’s been this back-and-forth of rumors about whether or not Ben Affleck was going to kick the ‘Bruce Wayne’ / ‘Batman‘ role to the curb, and seeing this one kinda makes me ok with the idea of him taking a hike. I know a lot of people out there take issue with him, but I’ve never had a problem with what he brings to cinema. Sure, he has some pieces of shit on the ole resume’ (Looking at both of YOU, ‘Armageddon’ and ‘Pearl Harbor’!), but for the most part, he’s just fine onscreen. He’s also quite a talented director, so I’d also like it if he’d aim more in that direction as well. I think his role in DC’s Snyder-verse is beneath him and now that I’m sure he’s collected million$ off his participation to date, I’d be A-OK with him hanging up the cowl and taking on more interesting characters and projects, like this one.

Awesome sound design on the .50. As featured prominently in the trailers and on the one-sheet, one of ‘Chris‘ go-to guns is the ridiculously overpowered Barrett M82 .50 sniper rifle. This thing is a cartoonish monster of a firearm and when he get’s it barking, I definitely noticed. Sounded awesome!

This character could co-exist with John Wick. I love the John Wick franchise, in many respects due to the effort and creativity that went into the ‘world-building’. With a few small tweaks, ‘Christian Wolff‘ could easily be a guest at the Continental Hotel.

– Sweet gunfight. Great sound design. There’s a few surprisingly energetic gun battles that erupt, but an assault on a safe house stood out and was what got me thinking of a potential John Wick connection.

Unique grenade kill during vicious fist fight. Yep. We’ve seen goons get taken out by grenades by the fistful before, but the way this one plays out worked for me.

Obvious twist, but it works. Yeah, there’s a twist that turns up in the 3rd Act that I saw coming from miles away. I had it pegged almost an hour earlier, but despite how plain-as-day it was, it didn’t bug me and actually led to more interest in a specific character, that I would’ve liked to see more of.

Strangely touching post-fight scene. I did not expect a certain conversation to go that way that it did, when the main fight wound down. I found it oddly refreshing.

Perfectly entertaining and satisfying movie that deserved to do better. Now I didn’t know what it’s Box Office take was before I scribbled this one down and I don’t recall there being a deluge of awesome reviews about it, but when I poked around for more info for this review, I was surprised to see that it had turned a solid profit.

And there you have it. My initial thoughts on ‘The Accountant’.

In a nutshell, ‘The Accountant‘ is a lively and entertaining espionage / assassin flick that boasts a strong cast, a well-paced story and some gritty, violent action scenes. I liked what Ben Affleck brought to the role of ‘Chris‘ and appreciated the solid supporting cast that surrounded him. On a technical level, it looks good and sounds great. If you’re a fan of films like the John Wick or Jason Bourne franchises, or just appreciate a competent and energetic action movie propelled by a simple enough plot that just happens to show a little brilliance just below the surface, then this is a title for you!


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