Monday, October 24, 2016

The Accountant: A rough edged mystery done spectacularly well.

The Accountant Review
I took a quick peek at the Rotten Tomato meter for this film and I read that this film is currently sitting on a 50% on the rotten-to-fresh scale. I am completely baffled. I think 50% on this movie is being a little too hard on it. 

"The Accountant" has a lot going for it. There is action, the kind of action that feels in-your-face and completely gritty. Every gunshot, every punch, every head-hitting-the-wall all feels real. It feels like you literally in the corridors watching these events unfold. Sometimes its easy to take the sound editing and sound mixing rooms for granted. Hell, I'll admit that I do that quite a bit when I sit down to watch a movie, but with "The Accountant," its hard to ignore. I can't think of another movie that were the sound effects were almost a character unto itself, but its very impressive.

"The Accountant" would be, at the very least, passable as a bone-breaking action movie. But the movie has a cool story too. It follows Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) a man who has a particular gift with numbers and mathematics. He uses a small-time CPA office as a cover to do freelance accounting for several different criminal organizations all over the world. He also happens to be autistic, which has been a gift and a curse his whole life, but his particular case of autism allows him to get into the very specific details of a job, and it has allowed him to be very successful. Growing up, Christian was always moving around thanks to his father (Andy Umberger). His father was in the army and he didn't believe in sheltering or catering to his son simply because he was born with autism. He taught his boy how to fight, how to interact with a cruel world, he never gave his son a crutch simply because of his condition. 

Some of you may find this plot-point heartless, some of you may find it rather unbelievable. Yeah, its weird that father would throw their child with autism into dangerous landscapes in an effort to do a better job preparing him for the world instead of a professional neurologist. But his father is a military guy and the movie makes it pretty clear from the beginning that Wolff's father was never very good at the job of parenthood, so I can buy into his hardheadedness easy enough for the movie. 

Wolff's work eventually catches the eyes of the United States Department of Treasury. Agents Ray King (J.K Simmons) and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) who plan to arrest Wolff for his financial crimes. All while Wolff gets hired by a technology company run by a lighthearted guru (John Lithgow) to see if there has been any financial foul-play. This leads Wolff to meet Dana (Anna Kendrick) who works for the company. Yes, there is some financial foul-play, but who is doing it and why. Why is Braxton (Jon Bernthal), a dangerous private security operative involved? Plus, agents King and Medina dig up some evidence that Wolff may also be a trained killer, is it true and if so, what does it mean?

There are quite a few moving parts in "The Accountant," but never is the movie hard to follow and never does the film not give an explanation. In fact, its a little funny, because "The Accountant" is one of those movies where literally every character is somehow connected to Wolff's past in some way. There are some "big reveals" at the end of the film and my fiancee was pretty sure about two possible theories involving those reveals. She actually guessed one of the reveals correctly, and even though I figured it would happen once she mentioned it, I kind of hoped it wouldn't come true. Its the type of reveal that feels taped onto the ending of the film, only to deliver a shock to the audience. Sadly, it kind of just feels out-of-place and the film would have been much more satisfying it was just a typical, action movie closing. Instead, the movie tries to convince us that this big reveal matters, but it really doesn't and its a major side-step in an otherwise cool and entertaining movie.

But that big reveal never derails the picture and there is also another reveal right before the end credits that neither of us saw coming, and I really dug that one. It may seem goofy that just about everyone in the movie is connected somehow, but it ends up working. Part of the reason it works is because Ben Affleck does such a tremendous job in this movie, its insane. He has all the autistic ticks and mannerisms down pat and he created a compelling character through all of it. He has a wonderful supporting cast helping him and Kendrick, Lithgow, Simmons, Addai-Robinson, Bernathal and even an appearance by Jeffrey Tambor are all well-done. This is a beautifully and artistically well-acted film. The cast helps you buy into the absurdities of the film's plot.

I think you'll be surprised just  how much "The Accountant" works for you if you allow yourself to open up to it. This has some very good action, fun character moments and has a gritty, little mystery at its core. Its only somewhat uneven, and the rest of the movie works so well that I could forgive the minor missteps that happen along the way. This is a fun little caper to check out as we exit October.


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