Unquestionably one of the best movies of the year…and depending on how the rest of Oscar season goes it might actually be the best.
The story of an autistic accountant who is a little more than meets the eye.
Okay let’s start with the spoiler free stuff.
This movie is exceptional. It is not only a great mystery but a great action film. As you cover both Ben Affleck working to find who is responsible for corruption within the company he has been hired to examine their books, you also follow a blackmailed Treasury Department agent as she tries to track down the Accountant. Every new piece makes the story more rich and complex. Added to that are action sequences that thankfully have left behind the shaky cam nonsense of the last decade and a half, and have returned to well-choreographed, easily to follow (and in the vein of John Wick everyone gets a head shot).
The main complaint I have heard, mainly from people who haven’t seen it, is that Ben Affleck can’t act so why go see it. This argument is as usual from people who haven’t seen an Affleck film since the early 2000’s (that period where he would take any job without even reading a script). But since Hollywoodland and Affleck has given a spectacular performance in anything he has been in, and The Accountant is no exception. From even the way he masters the lack of small facial ticks, to the awkward attempts at mimicking what most would consider small social graces, Affleck quite accurately portrays someone with high functioning autism, but thankfully without turning the character into a poor parody of the condition (*cough*CumberbatchImitationGame*cough*). Affleck is able to bring out the humanity in a character who has problems expressing his humanity, it’s quite an accomplishment and as usual Affleck will likely be snubbed by the Academy. As for the supporting cast, no one did a terrible job, but Affleck stole every scene, even the ones he wasn’t in with his performance.
From multiple angles this movie is deeply moving. Those angles I can talk about without giving too much away is his relationship with the young accountant played by Anna Kendrick. Affleck does a wonderful job of showing, even through the limits of his character’s atypical social skills, a moving compassion for this woman who has stumbled into his life unexpectedly.
So short version before we get to the spoiler heavy portion: this is a great movie. You should go see it.
But if you need more here is the spoiler heavy version. (Seriously go see the movie, continue reading only if you’re not convinced…honestly you’ll want to see the surprise without knowing it’s coming).
The film follows the Accountant (yes he’s nameless throughout the film). He is a fugitive from military prison, who was clearly trained in Special Forces for wet-work, who after escaping prison has taken it unto himself to right injustices where he can. He does this primarily by being the accountant to the criminal organizations for the world. He helps them audit their overly cooked books to find who is skimming from their criminal proceeds…and with that kind of access he has knowledge of all the evil they are engaged in. And while he occasionally resorts to violence his primary weapon is giving this insider information to a Treasury Department official so that they can be prosecuted. Said Treasury official is close to retiring and needs to find a replacement “someone to pick up the phone [when the Accountant] calls.” And so he picks a Treasury Department low level analyst who is as broken as he was early in his career, and under the lie of telling her to find the Accountant so that he can be brought to justice, shows her that for all his vigilante behavior, he is a force for good. In amongst this The Accountant, trying to take a simple low key job with a legitimate client, finds himself in a situation as corrupt and violent as any of his dealings with cartels. But rather than run and let innocent people die, he again takes matters into his own hands.
I will be honest I wonder how much of this movie was full of subtle inside jokes. In this film you have Ben Affleck play an antisocial genius who tracks down criminals and uses vigilante justice to restore order, while being helped by a genius woman who runs things through a computer, and a law enforcement agent played by J.K. Simmons. Soon up for you will be The Batman, which will be the exact same set up with nearly the same cast (J.K. Simmons has been confirmed as Commissioner Gordon).
That said, the parallel story lines of The Accountant and his various father figures and that of Simmons and his blackmailed protégé do parallel each other. Flawed men in bad situations trying to give someone they know is damaged a fighting chance in life. In both cases a woman comes into their lives that they feel deserve better than what they have. The thematic themes between these two characters only becomes clear at the end of the film, but they are beautifully played off each other. This movie will be replayed many times on my DVD player when it comes out because even one viewing shows it filled with more depth and subtle tones than one could possibly catch on the first time around.
Final Grade A+