When I saw the trailer for Gavin O’Connor’s latest film I was immediately interested; the story of an autistic accountant turned criminal was one that appealed to my sensibilities instantly, and Ben Affleck’s involvement only sweetened the deal. Say what you will about Affleck but recently his performances have been stellar, and I’m happy to say that his contribution is equally admirable here.
The structure of this film is deceptively intelligent, as pieces of information are revealed at perfect moments so that they enrich the experience without necessarily appearing as twists. The story unfolds in such a way that your perception of certain characters are challenged constantly, particularly when considering Chris (Ben Affleck) who comes across as a villain initially but slowly becomes likeable as you spend more time with him.
This isn’t to say that “The Accountant” is a film in the vein of say “Memento” where its structure is its main gimmick; rather, it feels quite traditional as everything is tied together in a neat but meaningful way. Every aspect of the story is connected to another aspect, and everything presented is needed either for the development of the characters or to make the story worthwhile. This can at times feel slightly too easy from a writing perspective, as the narrative is wrapped up in a neat little bow even though this isn’t really how life works, but there are certain times when movies should feel larger than life and I think that this is one of those instances.
The main draw of this film is probably to watch Affleck playing such an eccentric character, so it was pleasing for me that his lead performance lived up to expectations. He captured the essence of the character and delivered his lines appropriately at all times, making Chris endearing despite the fact that he does deplorable things. His character is a man of few words, blunt and disinterested in other people’s problems, and this is something which Affleck portrayed with ease.
Moreover, Affleck showed excellent comedic timing and delivered dialogue in a deadpan style that made lines which could’ve been silly both believable and amusing. This is something that I haven’t seen from Affleck before, and it isn’t something that I’d have put on his résumé prior to watching this film. Affleck is also capable of conveying warmth despite the awkward nature of his character, and at certain times he looks as though he’s internally aching to grab hold of Dana (Anna Kendrick) despite the fact that he’s sitting as stiff as a board. At the same time he looks as though he’d jump back like a startled spider should she actually get up and touch him, thus conveying the conflict that his character is feeling without needing to express anything verbally.
Overall, I’d say that “The Accountant” is an entertaining and well-made film in every area with nothing sticking out as an obvious criticism. I’ve seen plenty of problems articulated online, but in my opinion most of them can be boiled down to personal preference. That isn’t to say that this film is flawless – it isn’t – but personally I don’t mind a bit of exposition if it serves a purpose, and I also don’t mind when aspects of a story feel farfetched if they serve the film and make it more entertaining.
If I had to pick one thing to criticise about this film it would be that sometimes the way that aspects of the story come together feels too convenient, but oftentimes this is part of what makes that story compelling. The way that seemingly trivial parts of the story ended up being crucial and the way that characters appeared to be separate but ended up being intertwined made the story feel worthwhile, and ultimately I think that’s what made the movie work as a whole.
“The Accountant” is funny, action-packed, interesting, and absorbing, and I would recommend it to anyone as one of the best movies of the year so far. It doesn’t do anything particularly earthshattering, but it boasts strong performances and its structure and clarity make it better than the sum of its parts.