Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Running Time: 128 mins
The Accountant is an American film about high-functioning autistic man working as an accountant in a small local business. However, when the US government get on his tail, it emerges that he is making a fortune keeping the books for criminal organisations all over the world.
If you like a good thriller, this is the sort of film that will entertain and engage you, but do little else. Whilst The Accountant features some great performances and some moderately interesting thrills, it’s also a bit of a let-down when it comes to the overall mystery, which gets more and more convoluted and confused as the film progresses, making it feel a lot more like a slow trudge to the finish than a proper thriller should be.
However, this isn’t necessarily a bad film, and the main reason for that is the performances. Above all, Ben Affleck is amazing in the lead role. Playing a genius man with autism, he’s both likable and exciting, but also gives off a brooding and intimidating intensity that makes his character far more interesting, providing the majority of the film’s overall mystery.
What’s more is that he suits the wide range of genres in this film very well. His dramatic intensity is second to none, but as he proved with his performance in Batman v Superman, he’s actually a very good action star, and does a great job when the film moves away from its slower, more dialogue-based intrigue.
Alongside Affleck, there’s a heap of A-listers in the supporting roles. Whilst not all of them are so impressive (the likes of Anna Kendrick and Cynthia Addai-Robinson aren’t the most engaging to watch), J.K. Simmons is excellent in providing emotional intrigue in a very calm and quiet role, whilst Jon Bernthal and John Lithgow also impress in smaller roles.
For the most part, the performances are the best thing about The Accountant. However, I have to say that I really enjoyed everything about the opening act. Promising a cerebral and patient thriller, director Gavin O’Connor does well to set up the various plots that will all eventually come to a head, thanks to a confident and consistently gritty style (in the vein of the TV show Homeland), whilst the screenplay plants a whole host of seeds for future excitement that got me very interested.
However, following the captivating first act, the entire film begins to take a dive. O’Connor continues his gritty style well, but the mixing of intense, dialogue-based thrills and big-budget shoot-outs doesn’t really fit all that well, and whilst Ben Affleck manages to bridge the genres well, the rest of the film feels a little stuck in the wilderness with regards to what sort of film it wants to be.
The biggest problem, though, is the way the plot becomes so increasingly convoluted and messy as the film goes on. Whilst the plethora of characters and side plots early on gives the promise of various thrills, The Accountant ultimately becomes incredibly inconsistent in its focus and pacing of those stories.
In short, we spend far too long focused on one story or other (often up to twenty minutes without seeing any other characters), and the film unfortunately begins to take on an anthology style, ruining the overall story arc’s intensity and mystery. As a result, I was left bewildered as to what was really going on, and as the pacing begins to worsen as the film goes on, it feels like a longer and longer watch, offering little more in terms of intrigue and unpredictability.
Overall, whilst I was impressed by many elements of this movie, I was ultimately disappointed. The central performance by Ben Affleck is brilliant, and the entire first act is enthralling, but the way that the story takes such a dive as the film goes on, becoming more and more convoluted, and as a result more and more uninteresting and difficult to follow, was a huge shame to see, and that’s why I’m giving The Accountant a 7.4 overall.