Sunday, October 30, 2016


Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a very reliable accountant who is employed by big corporations to check their financial status. Yet, that's not all that there is to him: he seems to be in business with the biggest criminals in the world, he knows how to shoot from a mile away, and he owns a Pollock and a Renoir among many other mysterious things.

If that seems like a poor, unclear synopsis, let me just tell you that it isn't even a quarter of what is going on in this film and to be honest I'm still not clear on the remaining seventy-five percent. The Accountant cannot be commended for much clarity in plot weave and story clarity, yet, thanks to some very committed work by Affleck and some good stylistic choices by director Gavin O'Connor, it ends up being a very interesting, if fatally flawed, filmmaking effort.

As I said, what stands out here is Affleck's performance as the title character. For someone like me who in the past really didn't count him among the ranks of good actors, it is great to see that he has become such a talent on screen. He is able to make the most out of his natural charismatic presence, yet never go off character for the whole film. He plays this jumpy, off beat role incredibly delicately and his creative choices pay off repeatedly throughout the film, giving the character a real rhythm on the screen and making it very easy for the audience to empathize with this unlikely figure.

Unfortunately, not even with talents like John Lithgow or J.K. Simmons on board, is it possible to sing the praise of the rest of the cast. Everyone involved is a very good actor, but the problem is that they are simply given nothing to do. I counted many moments during the film where a scene would end and I would be asking myself what was that about. Many scenes lack character beats and/or story beats and unfortunately the actors' performances are affected by this since you simply can't manage to get closer to anyone of them. The exceptions stand only for the flashback scenes where we are able to get lots of good backstory on Affleck's character.

The plot is just insanely convoluted, but even worse, the way it is presented to you makes it more so. The scene weave in this film is terribly thought out and results in a whole lot of confusion for the audience. I counted at least three if not four different plots in this film, all trying to be condensed into one script and it simply does not mesh. There is an entire monologue given to Simmons in the third act of the film that goes on forever in trying to latch the different plots together and when it ends you are left more confused than ever. Nothing much in The Accountant makes a point: I never grasped what meaning there was to any of this. Simmons' monologue is emblematic of this: he goes on talking for ten minutes and once it ends there is absolutely no character mutation, no impact on story, no cleaning of the plot mess. This film is really suffering from a disastrous plot: many people get shot in the film and I still can't figure out why for more than half of them.

Yet, ultimately the film has a real charm to it. The way O'Connor shoots this, the grit and the sleekness he is able to inject into it is remarkable, but what he really has to be commended for is managing to partially rise above all of the plot non sense and deliver a pleasing experience by emphasizing strongly on the under dog story in Affleck's character. The audience has a very fine time in spending moments with him both in the flashbacks and in the present and by highlighting these the director manages to come out with a film that no matter how messy and confusing, is able to charm and never loose the sympathy for its central character, who is an original figure that deserved a much better film for him.

James's Score: 6/10

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