Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, April 26, 2018

Movie Review: The Accountant fails to balance character development and a confused story

Hollywood’s Blacklist of screenplays comes out once a year: the best screenplays that have yet to be accepted for filming. The Accountant’s screenplay managed to earn a spot on that list in 2011, written by Bill Dubuque and directed by Gavin O’Connor. That said, not every great script can be transferred so easily to the silver screen. After five years and some change, The Accountant is finally hitting theatres nationwide – starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal and J.K Simmons.

Its premise surrounds a tremendously gifted, autistic accountant, Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) who has trouble fitting in with society’s expectations but has no problem cooking the books for various nefarious crime organizations around the world. As he deals with new clientele, the US Treasury Department begins to close in on his actions.

For starters, The Accountant has an interesting story pattern that makes the overall screenplay engaging. However, its adaptation from paper to camera gets lost in translation – editing is a main woe with sloppy scene changes and dissociated pacing. Moreover, there is an abundance of exposition fed to the audience by far too many characters. Though this can be overlooked in the beginning stages of a film, it is unforgivably lazy to do so in the final, climactic scenes. In addition, a remarkably predictable twist negates even more from the screenplay held in such high regard. Overall, the film is confused; it wants to be a character study or character drama and an action thriller. While the action is well done, it fails to hit a notably high mark of character drama or development. In fact, it fails to garner much emotional value for anyone besides Affleck’s Wolff.

Although there are a fair amount of flaws, there are positives as well such as the action and Affleck’s performance. The action manages an adept handling of Bourne-esque, intense camera work – creating a scene beneficial to establishing a tense tone. Affleck manages to be subtle, but also works in a deft fashion with idiosyncrasies and limited expression – an excellent formula for success though this performance will not acquire much Oscar buzz. Still, without his convincing effort, the film as a whole very much would be left for dead.

One overlooked positive is the sound design and mixing. It can be easy to discount the sound of a gunshot since most action movies are so inundated with them, but The Accountant adds more by making every single round sound like a jolting blast, deafening with impact.

Overall, there are many reasons to enjoy The Accountant, but some of those reasons get muddled in the movie’s own story. An uninteresting subplot constricts itself and its twists with unnecessary exposition and weak character development (barring Affleck’s performance). It is incredibly hard to gauge what was lost from writer Dubuque to director O’Connor, but clearly The Accountant is better suited for someone looking for an action fix near the commencement of Oscar season.

Grade: C+

thescene@theeagleonline.com


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