“The Accountant” Movie Review

A movie about a man who use mathematics to be a badass? I’m in. This action thriller from Warrior director Gavin O’Connor opened on October 14th, 2016, grossing about $58 million in the first two weeks of its theatrical run. We follow an autistic man named Christian Wolff, who is a socially awkward but genius C.P.A. accountant. He moonlights by cooking the books for some dangerous criminal organizations and even has a few skills at killing people. His actions attract the attention of many interested parties, including the U.S. Treasury who are investigating his shady activities. Getting it right out of the way, Ben Affleck completely steals it as The Accountant. We’ve seen him as a great actor before, but this year, in particular, shows just how badass he has become at this point in his career, with his turn as Batman being the best part of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. For a character who is so soft-spoken and doesn’t have many lines of dialogue, it’s so compelling to see what he’ll do next. Also, the supporting cast, which includes Anna Kendrick as a nosy in-house accountant, J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Treasury director and agent, Jon Bernthal as an elusive hitman, and John Lithgow as a shrewd robotic company CEO, was really good as well. Growing up, I didn’t really like math because only a small percentage of it seemed like it would remain relevant in my life as a grown up. But since then, I’ve come to appreciate it in situation where it seems necessary. One of the most fun aspects of this film, for me anyway, was that I understood most of the lingo Affleck and Kendrick use to track the financial discrepancies of the company. But because the cast is relatively big, it’s often hard to determine just what the movie is really about. Is it about Christian Wolff trying to find out who embezzled all the money from this huge robotics corporation? Is it about the U.S. Treasury investigating the identity of the titular protagonist? Is it about Anna Kendrick’s Dana Cummings figuring out her feelings for this accountant? That’s not to say any of these storylines are irrelevant overall. It’s just saying that the movie can be described in one word as tangled, given the condensed running time of 2 hours and 8 minutes. If they could have found a way to rework everything to flow nicely and seamlessly, I don’t think that the quality of the movie would have been hurt. And when the plot slows down, I really mean it slows down to a near-halt. J.K. Simmons, who is still right for the role of Director Raymond King, spends a good chunk of his screen-time explaining to Addai-Johnson’s character exactly what The Accountant has done that makes him so dangerous. I would have preferred to see the cliff notes of these actions in brief snippets of flashbacks or simple context rather than them sitting down to explain it all in great detail. However, in moving on, it’s in the latter half of the movie when you really see what Christian Wolff is capable of. We are talking when the shit goes down, it GOES down. Watching him square off against Jon Bernthal in the final fight was especially intense, matched by the pitch-perfect sound design and editing by Richard Pearson. You can hear everything from the bullets whizzing by the mercenaries’ heads to the crunching of shattered glass beneath their feet. But it’s not just military-grade sharpshooting Wolff is good at; he’s perfectly adept at hand-to-hand combat. The filmmakers utilized a distinct Indonesian martial arts fighting style called Pencak Silat. The incredible cinematography by Seamus McGarvey, previously nominated for Oscars in the films Atonement and Anna Karenina, features up-close and claustrophobic shots contrasted by long range shoots, allowing for the fights to feel more contemplative. And as much as I could go on about the technicality and impressive gun battles that occur, I absolutely love the way this movie portrayed autism. It manages to show the setbacks of such a neuro-developmental disorder while still remaining respectful to audience members who have been actually diagnosed with it. Earlier in the year, Ben Affleck gave us a memorable spin on the iconic superhero Batman, who is appealing to almost anyone. Yet here, he gives autistic kids their own custom superhero to look up to. Painful social interaction? Check. Reciting the nursery rhyme of Solomon Grundy? Check. Complex math problems solved within minutes of screen-time? Double Check. Christian Wolff is such an interesting new character, with the most memorable line of dialogue in the movie when he says, “I have difficulty socializing with people, even though I want to.” Even if you don’t have autism, you will at least find that piece of written dialogue relatable if you’ve ever had a tough time being social. In the end, The Accountant is a solidly entertaining thriller in the midst of Oscar season. It makes up a somewhat messy plot with intense action sequences, intelligently written character interactions, and by far the most realistic on-screen portrayal of autism to ever be put into silver screen form. There’s also some potential to pimp a new cinematic franchise. (If done correctly) It makes math cool to watch. What more could you ask for?

Image result for the accountant


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