Sunday, January 8, 2017

Video review: "The Accountant"

“The Accountant” is an entertaining film, but it could have been much more. It’s about a math whiz who has autism and has turned into some sort of “super spy CPA” type who cooks the books and then kills the bad guys. My best take on it is that star Ben Affleck was jealous of his buddy Matt Damon’s two most pivotal roles, Jason Bourne and Will Hunting, and decided to combine them into one movie.

The result is part character study, part romance, and a lot spy action that gradually devolves into more or a less comedy, with our hero offing villains and then tossing off quips. It doesn’t really all fit together, but there are some nice pieces to the equation.

Christian Wolff was a kid whose genius and social disability were both plain to see. Raised by a stern military dad and beset with tragedy, he’s turned into this mystery figure who runs a one-man accounting shop in a crummy strip mall, doing taxes for working class folks. On the side, though, he runs the numbers for all sorts of international bad guys, from the mafia to drug cartels.

On the hunt is Treasury agent Ray King (J.K. Simmons), who wants to bust the legendary shadow man before he’s forced to hang up his badge in a few months. Jeffrey Tambor plays another father figure, who schooled Christian on accounting while they were in prison together.

Providing the cute-n-spunky ingredient is Anna Kendrick as Dana, a junior accountant at a company that makes robotic limbs. She thinks she’s uncovered some malfeasance the CEO (John Lithgow) doesn’t know about, so Christian is brought in to work his magic. Soon the young CPAs are auditing each other’s bedsheets.

From there, things get weirder and weirder, with black ops types showing up (Jon Bernthal among them) to make dark threats and stage the deaths of minor characters. Director Gavin O’Connor and screenwriter Bill Dubuque let things slide further and further afield from the somber first half, until the movie virtually becomes a laugh riot -- sometimes intentional, sometimes not.

“The Accountant” isn’t a bad movie, it just forgets itself. In trying too hard to be both Jason and Will, Christian wanders into absurdity. It’s an entertaining train wreck, but still a mess.

Bonus features are so-so, and are limited to three making-of documentary shorts: “Inside the Man,” “Behavior Science” and “The Accountant in Action.”



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