FlixChatter Review: The Accountant (2016)

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It’s kind of an interesting choice for Ben Affleck to do this movie in the same year as Batman V Superman. Some people call this one as an unconventional superhero movie about an autistic accountant, and it wouldn’t be wrong as there’s certainly traces of Bruce Wayne in the film protagonist, Christian Wolff. Heck even his name sounds like a superhero alter-ego, though I whisper to my hubby during the movie ‘Bruce Wayne wouldn’t be caught dead in a Ford F-150!

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From the time Christian was a boy, he’s a whiz with numbers. The movie opens with him working on a puzzle at a child psychiatric office with his parents and his younger brother. There’s constant flashback on him being taught by his military dad, and the film makes a point to contrast him with his more ‘normal’ sibling. Though he works at a small town CPA office in a nondescript strip mall, of course our protagonist is more than meets the eye. As it turns out, he’s been offering freelance services to some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. The head of the Treasury Department’s crime unit, Ray King (J.K. Simmons), has been investigating Christian for some time and with the help of his new protégé Marybeth (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), he’s closing in on him.

accountant_simmons_robinson One of the most amusing moments is when Christian takes on a job with a robotics company where he meets Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), an accounting clerk who discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. Naturally the accounting whiz only needs a single night 15-years worth of bookkeeping to figure out the exact sum. Kendrick’s vivacious personality is a fun contrast to Affleck’s forlorn and subdued’s character, though the supposed ‘romance’ between the two can only be described as awkward. Yes Christian is supposed to be socially impaired but the scene comes across as completely weird that it takes me out of the movie. Too bad Kendrick’s role is actually pretty small here as the movie could use a bit more of her dynamic energy.

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The concept is actually interesting but the overwrought script by Bill Dubuque (who also wrote the tedious The Judge) packed way too much into a 2-hour film. There are countless flashbacks that become repetitive real fast, especially when practically every single character gets a backstory. The scene when King talked about his encounter with Christian could’ve easily been trimmed down considerably as it threatens to grind the movie to a halt. The way Marybeth investigates Christian also plays out like an episode of Law & Order or CSI. This is the second film from Gavin O’Connor I saw, the first time being Warrior which I think is an excellent drama also involving a pair of brothers. Can’t say I’m impressed with his work here, it made me think if the film would’ve been better had Affleck himself had directed this.

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The third act is when we get Batfleck vs. Punisher, as Jon Bernthal played the head of security of the company Bat… er Christian is hellbent on taking down. Somehow it escaped me that Affleck has played Daredevil once too, so the fight scene at the end is also Daredevil vs. Punisher! Ok so as a superhero fan, the casting makes the mano a mano more amusing than it otherwise would, but the twist might actually harken memories from BVS, though it’s not quite as insipid as the ‘Martha’ fiasco. I just think it’s so on-the-nose that it took the thrill of finding out the twist and it’s actually quite cringe-worthy the more you think about it. I do like Bernthal here though, no doubt he’s great in action scenes but his character is actually not devoid of personality. At least he gets his chance to shine briefly unlike John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor whose talents are largely wasted.

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Overall I feel that this movie has a lot of potential that’s not fully realized. Just as some teachers would say to students that they’re not applying themselves, I feel the same about this movie. Despite all that clutter and sluggish pacing, there are some entertaining moments, hence my generous rating. That scene where we first see Christian in action at a farmhouse involving two hired goons is probably my favorite part in the movie. I guess I have a thing for nerdy superhero and this is practically Affleck’s version of Clark Kent. I read somewhere that Warner Bros wants to create a franchise out of this movie. Meh, that’d be so ill-advised given how incredibly bloated the superhero genre has been, and really, we already have Affleck playing a sullen, wealthy, bad-ass superhero who clearly has issues.

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Have you seen ‘The Accountant’? Well what did you think?

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27 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: The Accountant (2016)

  1. Yeah I pretty much agree with you about this one but I totally enjoyed the heck out of it. The so called “twist” near the end, I saw it a mile away and it totally became anti-climatic to me. It would’ve been better had that character been a straight out villain.

    But I do have to give credit to the filmmakers for showing how an autistic person behave realistically. One of my nephews is autistic and the way they showed how Christian behaves, especially when he’s a young boy, it’s spot on. It’s nice to see Hollywood to show that people like this do exist and they can be functional in the real world.

    1. Hey Ted! The twist was rather predictable, considering the constant flashbacks keep showing the little brother’s reaction. I like Jon Bernthal here though, he’s actually more interesting to look at than Affleck.

      I think the autistic aspect might be divisive for those who have that condition, but it’s definitely an unusual angle to take for an action thriller.

      1. That’s what I would’ve changed in the script if I was director. Make the story more about the Affleck’s and Bernthal’s characters and when they finally meet, it would’ve been more dramatic. I would’ve cut out the whole federal agents storyline, that didn’t really make any impact on the story what so ever, just made the movie longer.

        1. Yeah I think that’d be a more intriguing film. The whole fed agent storyline is so darn boring! It’s funny though, Affleck and JK Simmons will be in those Batman flicks as Simmons is playing Commissioner Gordon!

          1. To honest with you after Batman vs. Superman, I can’t get excited with anything from DC. But I hope Affleck can churn out a good Batman flick, as long as he keep Zack Snyder off the set and script duties, it should be fine. Lol!

  2. Good review as always Ruth! I never could get excited for this one. I feel I should see it but it will probably be on DVD. Interestingly I’ve seen a wide range of responses but really no one heralding it as a great movie.

    1. Hey Keith, I hear ya. I wasn’t either but it sounds intriguing enough that I don’t mind going to the press screening. Nope, by no means a great movie but it was mildly entertaining. I wouldn’t care seeing a sequel of it though, ugh.

  3. I haven’t seen it yet, but in all honesty I haven’t had the urge too. The only thing that is pulling me in to it is JK Simmons, who is just superb and can add humour and fear almost instantaneously to a scene (Whiplash and Spiderman, of course).

    Hmm, maybe I will give it a go as I feel that there is an interesting story and character arc here. Saying that, the title of the movie really doesn’t scream “ENTERTAINMENT!” to me haha

    1. Hi Michael! I hear ya, it’s definitely not a must-see by any means. Simmons is good though his character is kinda boring. Interesting that he’ll be playing Commissioner Gordon in Affleck’s Batman movies! You’re right that title is as tedious as it gets, but fortunately the film is still mildly entertaining.

  4. I enjoyed this but felt there was a good 20 minutes in the middle that we could have done without, it sort of bogged down the momentum.

    I didn’t have a problem with the Kendrick-Affleck relationship mostly because it didn’t read as a love interest to me. He was certainly protective of her, but I think it was more in a sisterly fashion (replacement for his absent brother, maybe).

    1. Hi Jay, agreed, the second act is indeed the most boring, esp. all the scenes involving the federal agents.

      Well I think the scene of them together w/ Kendrick moving closer as if to kiss Affleck reads like there’s a potential romance there, but the film didn’t follow up on that until the very end. Maybe it was more like a brother/sister thing but the length he went to protect her seems more than brotherly love to me. In any case, I thought that Pollock painting scene is pretty darn cool.

    1. Hi Steph! I don’t know if Affleck would get a pass from people suffering from Autism to be honest. Plus the movie seems to be sending a message that an Autistic person has value if somehow he has bad ass fighting skills, hmmmm…

    2. Hi Steph, I have a nephew who’s autistic and I thought Affleck did a respectable job of portraying someone with that condition. I have to give credit to the filmmakers for doing research on how a person autistic behaves. Of course this being a Hollywood action film, they have to make his character more functional than a real person with that condition. 🙂

    1. Hey Dan, well if you like The Judge this one is still better and more intriguing. Ahah well it’ll make you think of BVS is some scenes, but definitely a better film than that too!

  5. Great review as always Ruth. It definitely sounds interesting enough to warrant a viewing and I’m down for anything starring Affleck. I think he’s developed into a really compelling screen-presence in recent years.

    1. Hi Khalid! I’m curious what you think after you see this. It’s not a perfect movie but I think it’s still worth a look esp if you like Affleck.

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        1. I didn’t know you had been anticipating Doctor Strange, is it because of Benedict? Yeah it’s just ok, funny in parts but overall not all that memorable for me. I think 2016 is generally a pretty lame year for movies, but in the indie front there are still some excellent films.

  7. Tom

    ‘s a good review Ruth! As a big Gavin O’Connor fan I see I was able to overlook the lot of the flaws that you found, and are totally there. I really enjoyed The Accountant, but I know what mean when you say there were some weird moments and I wasn’t really a fan of some of the way things played out . Definitely some awkward screenwriting and perhaps unnecessary fillers (though I love seeing JK Simmons, so I appreciated that particular flashback) held this back from being a really, really good film but in the end my bias I think won out lol

    1. Hey there Tom! I have only seen ‘Warrior’ from Gavin O’Connor, which I feel is a more emotionally-resonant film. But despite the flaws I mentioned I still enjoyed this one quite a bit. I like Simmons too, I just think his scenes could’ve been edited more tightly.

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