Director: Gavin O’Connor
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson
Dear people who think Ben Affleck is still “Ben Afflicted”, think again. After proving himself as an interesting and accomplished director with movies like ‘The Town’, ‘Argo’, and ‘Gone Baby Gone’, further proving his acting chops in the first two of those mentioned, and giving an admirable Batman portrayal in the not particularly admirable ‘Batman v Superman’ movie, I can affirm the guy has talent. Seriously, ‘Gigli’ came out over a decade ago, he’s past that now! ‘The Accountant’ capitalizes on his proven success, transforming Ben Affleck into a charismatic and fascinating action hero.
Affleck plays the titular Accountant, and is joined by Anna Kendrick as the lead female, JK Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson as the Treasury agents trying to catch him, and Jon Bernthal as the crazy, violent, but lovable character every action movie seems to have! All of the standard characters and pieces are here, and almost every action movie trope is carried out, including a big shootout scene, which is really intense. The worst part about this movie is how cliché it can be at times, and the heavy exposition scenes. Not to mention that the big “twists” are predictable if you’ve seen any decent action film from the past two decades. However, the best part about this film is how it can be riddled with clichés, yet still manage to feel fresh and innovative at the same time.
The acting is good for the most part, and Ben Affleck stands out from the pack by a mile, giving a lot of depth and characterization to the autistic and introverted character he portrays. It’s impressive to watch how engaging he can be with the camera. Jon Bernthal is born to play these sort of crazy, loveable action roles; he proved it as The Punisher in the ‘Daredevil’ TV series, and now he’s going to hopefully get his own show where he can build on that. It’s nothing new, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As for the others actors, they were fairly. J.K. Simmons delivers lines, but not much more. He has one powerful scene, but it’s so full of exposition that his performance drowns in the abundance of dialogue. Anna Kendrick as the lead female, enters, gets in danger, then leaves. There were some characterizations given to her in the form of her dialogue, and her performance is noticeably heavily directed, as per whatever the script writes her to do. She doesn’t add subtlety to make the character seem relatable, she just feels like a movie character. There’s no doubt for me that some of that fault goes to the script, but good performances can make weak writing into great writing. This wasn’t a great performance from her.
This brings me to the script. It’s filled with subplots. Everything that’s a subplot could be a main plot in its own movie, this script is that dense. It was great getting to watch a studio film that felt like it actually respected the audience and their attention span, because the story was filled with lots of little scenes that just connected every dot. Some may see this as a flaw, which I understand, but I found it refreshing and enthralling. It’s nice knowing that there’s some audience respect out there in Hollywood studios. The script is also slow, and fair warning, the entire movie is slow. I enjoyed that the movie took about fifty minutes setting up everything that was going to be explained later. The director, Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior”), clearly shows that he wants to engage every aspect of his film to sync with one another, giving every important detail ample time to make its purpose known, and in the final act when the majority of the story arcs finish, it’s stimulating for the mind. The movie impressed me with how smart it was at times, even if there were tropes aplenty that were a little bit distracting.
Everything technical was done well. There were some scenes that seemed very poorly lit to me, and it was hard to tell what was going on. All of the action is visible however, and those scenes are intense. The score sounded good, the cinematography at times looked great, and the product placement wasn’t abhorrent like it is for most Hollywood blockbusters. Overall, I was entertained consistently, despite the slow pacing. I went in impartial, not reading any reviews beforehand, and I came out enjoying the experience of watching the movie. I think anyone who has some patience and likes action movies will enjoy this. The lead performance is great, and some of the story’s themes and the way that things play out really surprised me. Some parts were predictable and came off as trying to be original when they were just repackaged. But in the end, the pros of ‘The Accountant’ outweigh the cons.