Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"The Accountant" Review: Not Very Original But It Certainly Has Its Charms


Ever since Ben Affleck sat down in that director's chair with the criminally underrated Gone Baby Gone the notoriously lambasted actor has been on the upswing and can theoretically do no wrong (he is widely considered the best Batman to date!). But there is always an exception to every rule and the one that seems to bite him right in the keester more than anything is when he is part of a project solely as an actor. As long as he has some sort of creative involvement in the project it generally turns out good (although his role in David Fincher's Gone Girl stands in stark contrast to that statement) but more often than not if he is just a hired gun for a name on the marquee chances are that it will be more miss than hit. Thankfully his latest venture as an actor with the new thriller The Accountant proves to be one of the better films Affleck has lent his decidedly one note acting charms to that is honestly quite better than it has any right to be. Read the full review after the break.


Review Vital Stats:   
Projector Type: 2D Digital
Film Rating: R
Film Runtime:  2 hr  min
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: October 13, 2016

Biases:  
Loves: Anna Kendrick
Likes: Ben Affleck, Jon Bernthal, J.K. Simmons
Neutral: The odd little ticks and nuances Chris is given to try to make him "special"
Hates: That it didn't try harder to be different than other thrillers
Think you know how this story ends?: Think again.

Writing numbers on a piece of glass, he must be super smart!

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) has a special gift that allows him to process information at an alarming rate. We learn however that it does not come without its caveats as Chris was diagnosed with a rare high functional form of Autism when he was a child which also has a number of unfortunate side effects such as being sensitive to flashing lights, loud noises and just a general social awkwardness. Chris has decided to put his ability to good use by becoming a freelance financial consultant for whomever suspects their business might be the victim of any sort of fraudulent activities. His clients range from big business corporations and to private citizens who may or may not be involved in criminal activities. With his latest gig however he finds himself in a tense situation when his findings lead to both him and his company liaison Dana (Anna Kendrick) being targeted by a highly trained assassin (Jon Bernthal) who will stop at nothing to take them out.

The Accountant is a peculiar little film as it does nothing terribly original yet it still feels oddly fresh at times. Perhaps it has something to do with its unorthodox plotting wrapped around a rather uninspired man-on-the-run story or maybe it has more to do with its surprisingly robust lineup of quality actors. Likely the most logical reason though has a little something to do with its director Gavin O'Connor who was also responsible for the thoroughly enjoyable 2011 drama Warrior about two brothers competing in a UFC match that took two of the most over used themes in film history (sibling rivalry and sports) and turned it into something remarkable. While the same level of praise cannot be laid at the feet of his latest cinematic effort (Warrior was one of the best sports films ever made...seriously, go watch it) despite it sharing many of the same tropes that made that other film such a huge triumph.

Ray King will stop at nothing to find an accountant, his financial records must be a mess.

Taking the familiar themes of your typical thriller such as the highly trained recluse who breaks all of his established rules for a woman he barely knows, learning to be more human through their experiences together and ultimately hunting down all bad guys until there are no more left to kill, The Accountant was clearly not made to break the mold. It knows what it wants to be and is very good at being that while employing just enough wrinkles in the formula to keep the audience on their toes. One of the more interesting wrinkles is the character Ray King (J.K. Simmons), a Treasury officer whose story feels more like a tacked on side plot at first until some startling revelations are made later on. But his character arc and the reasons for him being so hell bent on hunting down Wolff down are one of the many ways in which the film surprises just as much as it keeps itself on its decidedly predictable path.

The performances are good all around with Ben Affleck playing the subtle bad ass without ever coming off too cornball-ish (although that little tick he does before he performs an important action is a bit silly). Anna Kendrick infuses some much needed cute and cuddly moments of levity despite her and Ben lacking the chemistry needed to buy into them connecting the way they do. All of the major supporting cast such as J.K. Simmons and Jon Bernthal keep things fresh but the one missed opportunity has to be the character Marybeth Medina played by Cynthia Addai-Robbinson as King's lackey that is being blackmailed into helping with his hunt for Wolff. She just feels tacked on and is easily the most underdeveloped and instantly forgettable addition to the film. She comes off as more bland than anything else and given the amount of screentime devoted to her it does hinder the pacing of the film as a whole more than help it.

Both Kendrick and Affleck are great here and thankfully aren't forced into a romance.

Lastly there are the thriller elements that as already mentioned follow some very familiar beats but once again it all comes down to the execution and O'Connor executes his action scenes with plenty of flair. The hand to hand fight scenes as well as the multitude of gunplay are all expertly handled and entertaining but it is hard to recall any stand out moments from them. It may be a back handed comment to say that the action was entertaining while it happened but in hindsight wasn't very memorable. The more dramatic elements brought on by the action are actually the highlights which is the way it should be but may upset those looking for something more action oriented. Thankfully it doesn't need to really on flashy action sequences to get by as all the other elements blend in nicely enough to look at the action scenes as icing on a cake that already has plenty of icing.

This may sound odd after laying all this praise towards the film but I wasn't blown away by any one aspect of The Accountant but there wasn't anything to point to that was bad either. It is a severely competent film with a capable cast, a familiar story with a couple interesting twists in there to keep you guessing, just enough solid action scenes to satiate those looking for some quick cheap thrills with their drama and all done with a workman like quality by its talented director. Just about the best thing one can say about it is that just about anyone can enjoy it which honestly cannot be said for most films, even the ones we legitimately love outright.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

This isn't exactly one of Ben Affleck's more impressive performances or even one of his best films, but there is no denying that it is an entertaining and generally well made thriller. If you still hold any reservations about seeing a movie starring everyones favorite new Batman then take this review with a grain of salt but if you are an Affleck convert like this reviewer chances are this is one Accountant worth looking up.

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