Is it just me or are we having an Afflecktion (pun intended) this year ? From the much-appraised reboot of the Batman in the Justice League foundation film Batman v Superman, to a short yet equally powerful Batman cameo in the Suicide Squad and then going off on a different tangent altogether in The Accountant, Ben has been prolific ! And that’s not just it. Jason Momoa, who would be playing the mysterious Aquaman in the Justice League film slated to release in 2017, just hosted a production wrap party announcing the completion of the film’s shoot which means Ben had been working on all four films at least at some point in time. Even for the talented actor/writer/director, that’s redefining the term “high-functioning”.
Directed by Gavin O’Connor, The Accountant intentionally projects a title which is un-subtle and mundane on the outset but immediately puts you at caution while settling with that image. Christian Wolff, who seems to be a simple Financial Consultant or Accountant on the first glance, actually uses this clean front to help launder money for dangerous clientele. Throughout the film we get to catch glimpses of Wolff’s troubled childhood history of Autistic disorder which gives him special abilities with numbers also making him extremely methodical and sensitive with his daily patterns. He is the quintessential mathematical genius with an utter dissonance with any form of social interaction. As a result, he conducts a life of solitude. With the support of his parents, especially his father, Wolff tries to overcome his handicaps to deal with the real world. On one hand he is able to complete complex upside down puzzles while on the other he becomes uncontrollably restless if even one piece goes missing. This obsession of his, becomes a constant companion as he grows up, only to be somewhat calmed through a nursery rhyme called “Solomon Bundy” taught by his father as a mnemonic means to get his focus back.
In a parallel timeframe, the Department of Treasury (DoT) also catches a sniff on Wolff’s money-laundering business. They have a series of photographs of several dangerous groups across the globe with one thing in common. In each of those photographs, they see a mysterious man in a suit who is seen to regularly meet with the targets. The chief of the DoT, played by J. K. Simmons assigns the task of finding the identity of “The Accountant” to a talented upcoming Analyst Mary Medina, played by Cynthia Robinson. As the noose starts to tighten around Wolff’s neck, his whole establishment threatens to fall apart. But that’s not his only threat. There is another who can prove to be a match for him. This hired assassin, played by Jon Bernthal, is equally skilled if not more and may well prove to be his ultimate test.
Affleck’s portrayal of Wolff is compelling as a flawed individual whose ability with numbers makes him an expert accountant who effortlessly cooks the books for the Mafia and Drug cartels but also elicits the question as to how he is able to maintain the facade as well his dangerous clients happy at the same time. The calm exterior purports to hide a skilled assassin who is trained not only in hand-to-hand combat but is also an expert marksman (*ahem..Batman..ahem*). Affleck authentically balances between the two personalities and creates a seamless transition every time he jumps from being Rainman to being Jack Reacher. Simmons and Bernthal, even with their limited screen-time give measured performances although Simmons seemed to be a bit under-utilized. A gripping investigation driven by Simmons himself could have added a lot more fire to the screenplay which slows down in pace more than once. Bernthal is living up to his acclaimed Punisher image and provides the nemesis to Wolff.
O’Connor’s Accountant is an abstract mesh of moods. The story starts from being a crime thriller, transitions into a drama, finally turning into an Action flick.
O’Connor’s Accountant is an abstract mesh of moods. The story starts from being a crime thriller, transitions into a drama, finally turning into an Action flick. In this obscure mixture of emotions, the plot doesn’t seem strong enough to hold its ground and with a bit of observation and intuition, one can easily see the climax coming from miles away. Having said that, the character of The Accountant is a treat to watch as you are reminded of Goodwill Hunting at times and also of Bales’ character from The Big Short. Affleck is effortless throughout the film and is able to hold together the audience’s interest just through his personality and mannerisms. This is one film which needs a TV adaptation. The character has too many layers to be peeled off and appreciated in such limited time. The background is reminiscent of Saul Goodman from the Emmy-nominated Better Call Saul, whose rise as a criminal lawyer is captivating and inspiring drama. Christian Wolff can have a similar treatment. Are you listening Showtime ?
gobblpoint: If you loved Tom Cruise’s underestimated personality in Jack Reacher, you will love watching Affleck’s Accountant. Everything aside, Ben Affleck is one of the few bankable actors who you can trust to go and watch without any background research on the film.
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