The Accountant – Making Accounting Awesome

How much love do you show your accountant? As much love as I show Harrison Ford? Harrison Ford is the man. You know who else is the man? Your accountant, especially if he’s Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck is the bomb-diggity, and I don’t just mean since Argo and the Benaissance. I’ve been an Affleck supporter since I was young and like a fine wine he’s only gotten better with age. Now our resident sauvignon blanc is in a new action/drama called The Accountant, which from trailers alone seemed promising. So was this the role Affleck was Bourne to play or is this just another generic action movie that’s Taken your money? Let’s dive in, as John McClane would say “Yippee ki-Affleck, mother Damon”.

Affleck stares down the long line of critic reviews for 'Batman vs Superman'.

Affleck stares down the long line of critic reviews for ‘Batman vs Superman’.

The Accountant is directed by Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) and stars Batman, Bella Swan’s BFF, J. Jonah Jameson, Lord Farquaad, George Bluth Sr. and Shane from The Walking Dead.
In all seriousness, this cast is exceptional and deserves more than being the butt of my half-heiny’d joke. Ben Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, an accountant who’s clientele includes some very dangerous people – international criminal dangerous. However, Chris is not only an accountant; he’s a badass accountant with a ‘set of skills’ that would make Liam Neeson nervous. He is also a high functioning autistic man, and while this seems rude to point out, fear not! It is arguably the core of the film. When young accountant Dana (Anna Kendrick) discovers discrepancies in her boss’s accounts, Chris enters the scene to ‘uncook the books’ and thus begins a spiral into corrupt businesses and murder. Meanwhile the treasury department closes in as their investigation into the mysterious ‘accountant’ draws ever closer to Chris’s capture.

This is, and I have thought about this, one of the 5 best films of the year, and this has been a good year for movies. This is an exceptional film with great performances, good directing and an incredible sensibility towards its exploration of autism.

Ben takes aim at yet another dvd copy of Gigli. They must be destroyed.

Ben takes aim at yet another DVD copy of Gigli. They must be destroyed.

An action/drama with an autistic hero almost sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch pitch, but in The Accountant this is handled with deserved respect, compassion and remarkable understanding. As someone who has a high-functioning autistic brother, and has worked with autistic children personally, I have to commend the writers, actors and director for their portrayal of autism in this film. The child actors used to portray autistic children in The Accountant are strikingly realistic in their performances, never overacting. Ben Affleck shines as an adult autistic man in a performance that really felt like it was projected with empathy and understanding of the condition. I linger on this note not just out of appreciation for the exceptional performances, but out of appreciation for a deeply understanding depiction of autism finally appearing in modern cinema. I was touched to see a film explore these themes and characters in a mature way, one that did not play these people for comedy or make a point of autism defining them. My brother watched this film with me and loved it as a film, but what I loved was that he was watching a film with autistic characters that didn’t talk down to him. So thank you The Accountant, for being both an excellent film and an excellent example of how to approach autism in a movie with dignity and empathy.

 

A rare photo of Ben Affleck preparing DC films for the Midas touch.

A rare photo of Ben Affleck preparing DC films for the Midas touch.

While Ben Affleck is the standout of the film (duh, when is he not?), the supporting cast are not to be ignored. Anna Kendrick proves once again why she’s a talent to be watched as she gives a likeable, charming and sympathetic performance as young accountant Dana. J.K Simmons is less yell-y than his Whiplash days, playing the director of financial crimes, Ray King. Simmons is understated for the most part, but is given a little more fleshing out by the third act. While we see very little of John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor, both actors give good performances, while Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) offers a very good performance, especially in the final confrontation of the film. The only chink I can find in The Accountant’s armour is a slight reliance on exposition scenes nearing its final act. Whilst this doesn’t take away from the film as a whole, it is the only thing that stands between it and a perfect grade for me. Though well done, these later scenes just ‘tell’ too much for a bit too long, and don’t seem to fit the pace of the rest of the film. That said, the information given is compelling and definitely rounds out aspects of the story that altogether completes a very good self-contained narrative. Great batting average, almost perfect execution, but a slip on the home run.

"And here you can see the percentage by which Marvel Studios can suck it. Batffleck out."

“And here you can see the percentage by which Marvel Studios can suck it. Batffleck out.”

At the end of the day I enjoyed the crap out of The Accountant. It was smart, mature, exciting, funny and most importantly compelling; all which are a rarity in the action/drama scene. The handling of autism in this film was honest and well executed, with brilliant performances and an approach that shed light on the subject but did not make ‘victims’ of those who exhibited it. What a pleasure this was following the fantastic releases of the past 2 months i.e The Magnificent 7 and Deepwater Horizon. I honestly did not think this year could get much better, but The Accountant has truly knocked it out of the park here. Much like Gavin O’Connor’s early film Warrior (which I love to DEATH), this film balances character drama with thrilling visuals in a great way, and is sure to impress.

A wholly satisfying film that deserves a truckload of praise, and one I believe will garner more appreciation as time goes by.

The Accountant is in cinemas now, so go check it out!
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SUMMARY: A fresh, compelling action/drama that ditches Taken for real, 3 dimensional people. Focusing more on characters than firefights, this film follows an autistic accountant with incredible military training and delivers as both an action film and a drama. A well directed film with an excellent lead, great action and a mature approach to autism that seeks not to marginalise, but expand understanding. What a film, not to be missed for fans of action or good cinema!

SCORE: 97%

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