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Review: The Accountant (2016) — Autistic hero interesting, less conventional but unsatisfying

ben affleck accountant

The Accountant

Movie review


Directed by Gavin O'Connor whose known for directing the MMA drama Warrior (2011) and written by Bill Dubuque who wrote The Judge (2014), The Accountant stars Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman, Gone Girl, Argo) as Christian Wolff, an autistic public accountant who secretly helps uncook books for dangerous criminal organisations and the cops are on to him but it's his legal work for a large corporation that gets him into life-threatening trouble, hunted by a hired mercenary played by Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Daredevil series).

This film is not your average action thriller of simple plot and over-the-top car chases. As the matter of fact, it's unconventional for its genre. It doesn't spill out everything about its protagonist to the audience immediately which keeps the film highly compelling and interesting. Ben "The Bat" Affleck absolutely nailed the role as "Chris" Wolff with his committed performance. Wolff, due to his autism, is a math genius but he's unable to socialise with others well, which makes the awkward interactions in the film very amusing to watch. And who other than Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) could provide that kind of likable chemistry with such character? She plays Dana Cummings, an in-house accountant for that said-large corporation who found the missing money in her company's books which led to the outsource employment of Wolff.

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But apart from being secretly a criminal accountant, Wolff is also well trained in both hand-to-hand and armed combat with great precision which makes him difficult to be eliminated by hitmen such as the one portrayed by Bernthal whose performance is pretty much Shane and The Punisher-like. The action sequences and fight choreography featuring Pencak Silat are cool and gritty but never as engaging or intense as like the ones in the Bourne movies because it does not ever look like the protagonist would ever get hurt.

But how did Wolff become and get to where he is despite the opening scenes of difficult childhood due to his austistic condition? What is his backstory? That is what the film really is about. Like a superhero origin story filled with non-linear exposition throughout the film with flashbacks and verbal explanations which allows the audiences to easily deduce and predict reveals in the final act but still pleasantly surprises with a couple of anti-cliches. The problem about it is that the entire film feels like a first act without enough action and thrills. However, the film does manage to stay faithful to its themes which feels somewhat genuinely sincere.

Despite some typical flaws, the film doesn't miss out much on explaining anything but it does require a lot, I do really mean a lot, of attention to the details that the film just throws at you which can be confusing if the audience fails to keep up. It may not be an exciting, action-packed movie with tiresome car chases, huge explosions and whatnot, but it certainly feels far from being a by-the-numbers action thriller as it introduces and delivers a more unique and interesting hero. Maybe it should have a sequel that it could go all out doing what Wolff does best without hindrance by all this backstory stuff. Out of all the decent to terrible movies in recent years that got sequels, The Accountant is probably one that truly deserves to be turned into a franchise at this point.

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What I would've named the film: "Autistic Agent 47"

Malaysian censorship: Nothing seems to be censored. Vulgarities are left unmuted as well.

Verdict: More backstory than action but highly watchable.

Rating: 3 / 5

Genre: Action thriller
Running Time: 128 minutes
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Screenwriter: Bill Dubuque
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson

Malaysia Release Date: 20 October 2016
Rated: 18
Local Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia
Production: RatPac Entertainment, Zero Gravity Management



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