“The Accountant” (R)
Despite its fascinating subject matter, the new Ben Affleck crime thriller “The Accountant,” for the lack of better words, just doesn’t add up. Convoluted and contrived — if not completely outlandish at times — the film has a fine share of outrageously entertaining moments to make it worthwhile. Ultimately, the film feels like an amalgam of Affleck’s buddy Matt Damon’s roles in “Good Will Hunting” and “Jason Bourne,” even though its far inferior to the former and superior to the latter.
Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, one of the aliases he assumes as an accountant to un-cook the books of the worst criminals in the world, including terrorists, cartels and mobs. Cool, calm and collected, Christian, a man with high-functioning autism, is a math savant, which is why he was brought on board by a multi-billion-dollar robotics firm to find how $65 million went missing.
Quickly defying the firm’s expectations, Christian discovers the books were being cooked, which leads to the sudden deaths of some of the corporation’s top executives. But the assassins don’t want to stop there. They want the company’s accountant, Dana (Anna Kendrick), dead, too, as well as Christian.
Unbeknownst to his would-be assassins, Christian was forced by his father into violent training as a super-soldier of sorts as a young child to prepare him to combat the cruelties of the world. His lethal skills are coming in handier than ever protect himself from and he’s willing to use whatever means necessary to protect himself and Dana from a dogged assassin (Jon Bernthal) who ruthlessly dispatches everyone connected in the wrong way to his high-profile clients.
Affleck, for as much he is assailed as an actor (in such roles as Batman), is actually pretty good in “The Accountant.” He by no means rises to the level of the autistic character Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for playing in “Rain Man,” but he brings enough subtlety and when the film needs it – physical dominance – to make the role engaging. Underplaying the role most of the time, Affleck and director Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior”) find unexpected opportunities for laughs in many different places.
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Treating Christian’s autism as an indifference with other people as opposed to a disability, “The Accountant” naturally shows how those living with the mysterious brain disorder can and will find a way to thrive in society. Of course, Christian’s ultimate actions as a mercenary of sorts are extreme, and like the mathematical equations he’s trying to figure out, the plot of the “The Accountant” is far too complex to sort out in the film’s 2-hour, 8-minute frame.
Complete with examinations of Christian’s past – as well a subplot involving a veteran U.S. Treasury officer’s (J.K. Simmons) hunt for the math genius – “The Accountant” is simply too confusing to figure out, that is, until, an obligatory flashback scenes conveniently ties up the loose ends you’ve been grasping to have tied up for the duration of the movie.
In the end, “The Accountant” is the sort of movie you’ll want to like, and if you’re willing to take the preposterous plot at face value, you’ll emerge from it at least half-satisfied. If only more thought would have gone into the examination of Christian’s autism and how it shaped him as an adult and less into the film’s action scenes, “The Accountant” would have ranked much-higher on the numbers scale. The film has a couple great twists, which will have you questioning afterward how you didn’t see them coming.
Lammometer: 6.5 (out of 10)
Listen to Tim’s review of “The Girl on the Train” on the “KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard below, starting at 11 minutes in.
“The Girl on the Train” (R)
Emily Blunt gives the best performance of her career with “The Girl on the Train,” a bumpy adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ best-selling crime novel of the same name.
Though it’s stacked with an excellent cast and a capable director with Tate Taylor (“The Help”), “The Girl” – about a severe alcoholic who suffers a blackout during a violent episode that leaves a woman (Haley Bennett) dead – hobbles along because of its non-linear storyline that hampers the narrative.
Basically a whodunit thriller with a number of potential murder suspects, Taylor can’t muster enough of a shield to keep the real killer’s identity a secret for too long. With the air let out of the balloon so soon, “The Girl on the Train” turns from a suspenseful tale into more a waiting game, until the film catches up to the time it’s ready to make the big reveal.
Comparatively, “The Girl on the Train” is not nearly as good as the similarly-plotted “Gone Girl,” which at least in cinematic form, is far superior. That’s not to say this “Girl” is a bad movie – Blunt’s Oscar-caliber performance alone elevates it far above that designation.
Lammometer: 6.5 (out of 10)
Listen to Tim’s review of “The Girl on the Train” on the “KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard and Michele Tafoya below.