Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Accountant


   The Accountant is a movie I did not see coming. In no way did it exactly fly under my radar, but I had leveled no expectations at it one way or the other. I was a blank slate as I put the movie on, and I feel that's a practice I should get into more often. Either way, The Accountant was a refreshing experience. It's a layered espionage thriller with a fascinating character at its core. It's so full of twists, turns, revelations and surprises that you'd need a spreadsheet to keep track of it all- which would be no problem at all for the eponymous character of this not-so-little thriller.

   Fortunately, The Accountant is a coherent movie that chugs along without bogging things down. Its main story is fairly uncomplicated, leaving the characters to be explored in layered flashbacks and numerous revealing asides. Pieces of information are doled out only as they become relevant in the main story- which has to do with industrial money laundering or embezzling or something. Our main character is a literal accountant who is hired to get to the bottom of this corporate mess, and he comes highly recommended. His skills are nearly 'supernatural', as one character says.

   We get to find out how, and why. The more we find out about this accountant, the more interesting the movie becomes, but it's the promise of these revelations that kept me glued to the screen. Thanks in no small part to Ben Affleck's terrific performance, which is largely restrained and almost robotic- save for tiny carefully chosen moments of warmth and emotion. I don't want to give anything more away, because his character is absolutely the main reason to watch this movie. He's great. The movie is an excellent vehicle for both Affleck, and this character.

   The story is full of moments that in any other film would be dispensable, played for a laugh, or irrelevant seconds after they are over- but not in The Accountant. Even the most seemingly peripheral characters have a part to play in this sprawling jigsaw puzzle of a movie. Which is a perfect analogy, and an intentional one at that. Puzzles and puzzle pieces are a major recurring theme in the movie, which extents all the way into the plot structure. As pieces fall into place, the bigger picture comes more and more into focus. I really enjoyed that about this movie. It managed to keep me engaged and thoroughly interested throughout.

   In fact, the movie plays like a robust origin story for a cinematic character not unlike a new Bruce Wayne- who's so interesting on his own, he doesn't need a Batman. The Accountant, as a movie, has the added advantage of not having to play to any specific fan base. It's just well crafted entertainment, free of a franchise or gaudy sequel-bait. Unfortunately, it's not perfect. I felt like the main story was rather underwhelming, but even worse- it was uninteresting. It played like an ongoing excuse to learn more about the character and his past, but never once did I actually care who the hell was embezzling money. When it was finally revealed, it was like "Oh, okay. That makes sense."

   For a movie that's so good at characterization and revelations, that one- and the entirety of the main storyline, fell spectacularly flat for me. It makes sense then that the movie goes on past its climax for a good ten minutes, dropping several consecutive reveals that had more payoff than anything the main story ever had. That, combined with some rather wild cinematic convenience prevent The Accountant from being an absolutely 'great' movie, but it's solid cast- all turning in excellent performances, the consistent level of mystery and intrigue, the well-written characters, and the slick, gutsy action scenes which punctuate the plot throughout, all make The Accountant some shamelessly exciting and engrossing entertainment.

   It may not be totally perfect, but we need way more movies like this.

2 comments:

  1. Exactly; we need more movies like The Accountant. I didn't see it coming either! :)

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  2. I love it when movies can take me by surprise like this one did! Thanks for reading :)

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