Ari Howorth ‘’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
With the state of the current DC Cinematic Universe in shambles, it would seem that no one involved in those projects is safe from internet ridicule and a permanent stain on their career. Such is debatably the case with current Batman, Ben Affleck, whose recent role in Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant had become a meme before it hit theaters. Though his performance is adequate, the film gives way to the expectations set by the Affleck “fans” of the web.
The Accountant follows Christian Wolff (Affleck) who works as an accountant for an unnamed, unseen employer. His clients however, tend to fall in the sketchiest category, as he is often doing booking for illicit groups in the middle east or even corrupt governments. He doesn’t limit himself to accounting however, as he more often than not, finds himself doing muscle work or even hits for his clients as well, which garners him the attention of Treasury Agent Ray King (an expectedly solid J.K. Simmons).
The film has a fun premise—compelling even. It falls flat, however, it can’t help but feel simply inconsequential. What the viewer sees is neither the first, nor the last case in the accountant’s career, and ultimately this takes away from the urgency. What’s more is the actual case that is depicted is convoluted and dull. It is meant to serve as a juxtaposition—the accountant works as a regular accountant for a regular business and then discovers the dark secrets (as opposed to knowing them from the get go), but these secrets are convoluted and the case is just dull.
The aforementioned “fun” premise when done poorly becomes silly. While an action movie called The Accountant should have never been greenlit, watching Affleck go through his training to become the martial arts expert he is (in a montage that could serve as this Batman’s Batman Begins training sequence) is laughable and the film’s cheap characterization of an autistic savant who is more than meets the eye seems lazy.
It’s the more subtle moments of the film that work to its benefit. The active decision and thoughtful tease to not make Anna Kendrick’s character a romantic interest is a nice stray from conventional filmmaking. Similarly, the big twist of the film can be predicted and yet, it’s clear that that is part of the intention. It isn’t about the shock of the reveal but rather how it affects the characters.
To be fair, this film does have some of the best action moments of the year. Whether it is warranted or not is a separate issue but it is unbelievably thrilling when it arises. Macho man director O’Connor used the same choreographers as he used in his unappreciated gem Warrior and it pays off.
All in all, this film can’t decide what it wants to be. It is equal parts thrilling action flick, mental health character study and government chase tale, with no room to breathe. It is a disappointing step in what is otherwise an esteemed career for O’Connor, and hopefully, he gets back on track.
Overall Grade: C
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