Director: Gavin O’Connor
Starring: Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson
As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise. (Source: IMDb)
The trailers for The Accountant did a really great job of creating an air of mystery and intrigue, both about this character, and about the film. Crisply cut and edited, I had hoped it would be a good indication of the quality of the film, but alas, not quite!
As an action thriller this film had some pretty great moments, and a lot of the action was really solid. As an autistic character study, it also had some fairly good moments, largely down to Affleck’s performance. It skipped between these two, and when it was focusing on one in isolation was where it was at its strongest. Where it tried to have too many different elements working at once was where it fell apart, but we’ll get to that.
It’s a great cast on paper, but I thought Affleck was really the only shining light performance wise. He pulls off the monotonous ambiguity really well, and comes across as genuinely unpredictable. I found his performance really compelling in this, and it was this which helped to keep me focused when my attention was otherwise wavering. I’ll also gladly watch Jon Bernthal be an absolute badass any day of the week, so that was a plus as well.
The narrative structure is non-linear and makes you work pretty hard, but I actually thought this was quite effective. Seeing the story as snapshots and fragments makes you try and piece it together yourself, kind of like an elaborate film jigsaw puzzle; appropriately a motif that runs throughout is jigsaws, so this format worked pretty well.
With so many different pieces trying to fit together all at once, not all of them slotted into place neatly and it takes a lot of work to get them to a place where you feel satisfied with them. Unfortunately, this film never really leads you to the point where you feel fully satisfied, and really gives up on being anywhere near coherent around the halfway point.
The different pieces and genres colliding means it is very tonally confused and a bit all over the place really. It sometimes forgets it needs to have a plot in places, and the side plots and characters vary in quality and necessity. I love Anna Kendrick, but she pops up and adds very little to the story, disappears for ages, and then inexplicably returns when they realise they should probably wrap up that character thread. J.K. Simmons is one of my favourite actors to watch, but he seems restrained by a story which doesn’t seem to know what to do with him, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson feels totally redundant.
It just feels really sloppy and disjointed, and even when you’ve assembled all the pieces of the jigsaw, you’ll be staring at it afterwards, wondering exactly what it is trying to be.
I saw this movie so you don’t have to. It has its moments and I wouldn’t say it is a complete waste of time, but I just couldn’t connect with the plot and struggled to stay focused on what was happening. It’s tonally all over the place, and a handful of good performances make it watchable, but it struggles to decide just what it wants to be. An average action movie, and an average character study, but never fully excelling at either, and never realises how to make these two work together seamlessly.
Agree with everything I’ve said or am I a totally misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Let me know in the comments below!
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