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The Accountant

Opening Date
13 Oct 2016
NC16 Violence and Some Coarse Language
128 mins
English with Chinese subtitles
Gavin O'Connor
Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons
Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (J.K. Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars.  But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.
By Freddy  13 Oct 2016
An unconventional action thriller with a strong performance by Ben Affleck and a talented albeit underused cast.
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Is The Accountant a typical action thriller? Yes and no. It has an ongoing mystery that keeps the thrill for a while, before jumping more into action scenes. But the plot does go to unconventional directions at times, seemingly switching genres even.

The highlight of the show is the strong cast. Ben Affleck’s titular character, the mathematics savant Christian Wolff, is autistic, although the film explicitly states that it does not want to label his condition. Affleck played the challenging role well, giving a nuanced performance that feels realistic without overdoing the autistic side of his character. Nevertheless, Christian Wolff is too invincible that I was never worried he would be hurt or killed. That does take some of the thrill away.

Anna Kendrick’s screen time is a lot shorter than I expected. In the time she had, she did a good work in her role as Dana Cummings, a character that is a little reminiscent of her Oscar-nominated performance in Up in the Air.

The female character that I feel is more prominent is Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), a treasury analyst tasked to find out who the accountant is by Ray King (J.K. Simmons). Both of them have chemistry and play off each other well. Nevertheless, it cannot be helped that their entire plot is off-tangent. Despite their enjoyable performance, the plot might be tighter if these two characters are eliminated altogether.

Indeed, a problem that resonates throughout the film is that every character besides Christian Wolff is underdeveloped. Most of them are one-dimensional and does not have a lot to work with, despite the talented casts which also include John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jon Bernthal. As eventful as the film is, I feel that none of the characters are significantly changed by the end of the film.

The film’s narrow focus on Wolff is not necessarily a bad decision. We do get an inside look into how Wolff does what he does and how he becomes who he is, with flashbacks about how he grows up with his parents and brother. That room allows us to see his interactions with other people through his eyes. The lack of focus in other characters are somewhat symbolic of his reluctance to establish relationships with other people.

The film tried to make an unsubtle statement about autism, that it is not a problem and that people and children with autism are simply different. Such statement about autism gets muddled, however, when your main character works for dangerous criminals and has an arsenal of illegal weapons and multiple passports.

The film is not completely a dark, humourless affair. Wolff’s deadpan delivery is funny at certain moments. Some moments towards the end elicited chuckles from the audience. I am not sure if those moments are intentionally humorous or not, but they felt jarring when I watched it.

Overall, The Accountant is an enjoyable film with a mixture of drama, action, and mystery, although the mixture is of unconventional proportions. There is definitely some novelty in its plot progression that makes you unsure of where it will be going next. It has its twists, some more predictable than others, to sustain some excitement. Those who expect to watch an excellent performance from Ben Affleck and some action would be satisfied after watching this movie.
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