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‘THE ACCOUNTANT’ ENTERTAINS BUT FALLS SHORT OF GRAEATNESS

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Armed with a cast of highly respected actors, director Gavin O’Connor delivers possibly his most tense, thrilling, character-driven film to date. However, there are far too many ideas thrown in the air to keep track of and truly love any of the characters, and the plot cannot keep up with all their specific motives.

The film follows the story of a boy not only born with autism, but born into an army family.  This boy, however, was clearly a savant, with a brother about the same age with no mental handicaps.  After his father refuses standard treatment and is left by his wife, he decides to train his sons so nobody could take advantage of the condition.  Fast forward into adulthood, and the young autistic boy is now a money-laundering accountant, essentially a specialist who is called upon by both gangsters and large corporations to “find” and handle money.  Soon, the director of crime enforcement at the department of treasury, Ray King (J.K Simmons), becomes obsessed with finding this man, for more reasons than he claims. Meanwhile, the accountant himself, Christian Wolff (Affleck) is hired to look for missing money in a robotics company after junior accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) discovers money missing. This sets off a chain reaction of murder, man-hunting, and “good old-fashioned investigation” that ends with a serious body-count. 

The acting in this film was great. Affleck was very believable as a troubled but genius functioning-autist. J.K Simmons also made the most of his limited time, commandeering the most emotional moments in the film. John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jon Bernthal were all exceptional, as usual. The only true blemish was Anna Kendrick, who likely suffered more from a poorly written character than bad acting itself. She’s essentially the damsel in destress who would sometimes flirt awkwardly with Affleck (small spoiler alert: no sex), making the film seem formulaic. However, not pursuing the actual romance itself was excellent continuity for the main character, whom could kill just about anybody using his hands or a sniper rifle, as well as doctor anybody’s books perfectly, but could barely begin to socialize.

The film also has quite respectful cinematography, using shadows and symmetry effectively. The action, while rarer than the trailer made it seem, is done flawlessly. The hand-to-hand fighting not only looks, but sounds believable, with many snapped wrists and hard, swift punches. The use of guns is much the same. In this way, the sound-editing crew deserves substantial credit, but the choreography is also spot-on. This made the film more approachable to crowds.  Still, it’s nothing that hasn’t already been done.

Despite all of that, there are noticeable flaws in the plot. Almost the entire second half is a rage tour for Wolff against the robotics company that had previously hired him, though it seems his only motivation is because they tried to kill Dana Cummings, and it’s never clear why he cares so much for her anyways. We’re also left to wonder how Braxton (Jon Bernthal) became a part of the plot in the first place. There’re many other plot holes aside from this one as well. Some relate to the fact that the motives of the company’s boss, Lamar Black (John Lithgow), and Francis Silverberg (Jeffrey Tambor) are almost completely unknown, all we know for sure is that it has something to do with embezzlement. The film throws far too many characters in the air to keep track of, and it soon becomes a wash of thinly described motives and ruthless, calculated killing by Wolff, who seems to meet his fate in an oddly coincidental way. By the end, the story feels incredibly manufactured. Though this was a decent script, it fell flat on its own unnecessary characters and overused troupes. The climax was also overdramatic and not nearly as engaging as was meant to be. The same can be said of Mark Isham’s soundtrack.

So, this film earns a modest 3/5. It was admittedly impressive to see such dedication to character building in what seemed like a child of the James Bond movies combined with a well-made drama. However, by the end of the film, the plot doesn’t feel all that important, and in some ways it even seems too surreal to believe. It was a classic Hollywood ending to a classic Hollywood movie, but a decent one at that. If you are an action fan with patience, this may be your film. If you are looking for sentimentality and engaging dialogue, you will find a bit here, but it will often be under the asterisk of many circumstances not making perfect sense. If you are just looking for the next Oscar favorite, keep waiting, this film is an admirable but ultimately cute attempt at greatness.

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