THE ACCOUNTANT KEEPS THE LEDGER EVEN

Image result for the accountant

The man drives a big old SUV onto a house on a hill in suburban woods like any old house you’d see in your neck of the woods. There’s a Gatling gun hidden at the front of the interior for home protection. At dinner with perfectly placed table settings and he sits down to eat food uniform in shape and temperature. Then he closes his bedroom door to go to sleep and plays heavy metal music. Lights flash in his room as he takes a wooden club and rubs it along his shins in a rhythmic and comforting manner. The noise, the visual stimulation, and the pressure it is all to help him cope with the outside world as a highly functioning individual with autism.

These are the scenes that makes The Accountant something new and interesting for an action thriller but they become less frequent as the different plot threads unravel to a third act of action sequences. For a while though this film delivered on the promise of its premise and thankfully it is always at worst at the very least a perfectly serviceable action thriller.

Related image

Ben Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, a forensics accountant who works for numerous criminal enterprises (I guess everybody has to make a living somehow in this economy). In fact Chrissy boy is doing just fine for himself with original copies of comic books from the 1930s and classic art pieces. Downside is his work makes him incredibly knowledgeable of said criminals so he needs to maintain a particular set of skills. Fortunately when he was but a poor autistic boy knee high to a grasshopper his Daddy dearest happened to be a psychological warfare officer in the United States Army and well he done fuck that boy up. A strong believer of nature not raise my boys to be some pussies Wolff Blass went from chasing some French boys down a rainy alley when he was twelve to being an elite trained martial artist and sharp shooter. There’s a bit more to it than that but part of the pleasure of the film is a series of flashbacks that unravel the mystery of Christian’s origins. In the meantime the FBI led by Ray King (J.K. Simmons) and data analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) is trying to ascertain if Wolff is just one person and where he is. Christian himself goes to work in a legit job auditing a private corporation Living Robotics who need help discovering the source of some financial discrepancies. He meets with the CEO Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow) who immediately seems too nice to not be shifty and one of their accountants Dana Cummings played by Anna Kendricks who is too Anna Kendricky to not become some sort of ally who will challenge Christian’s long held isolation and reserved emotions.

Image result for the accountant

Most of the cast it has to be said are playing the type of roles they’ve become known for. Kendrick is a little quirky and smart but also cute as, Lithgow charmingly untrustworthy, Simmons as sarcastic and authoritative, Jon Bernthal as a rival assassin who appears downright dangerous and unpredictable so shout out to Cynthia Addai-Robinson who I have not seen before. Ben Affleck as Wolff portrays his character well, no expert on autism I think he plays certain scenes of frustration well and is suitably dialled down and restrained throughout the bulk of the running time. Wolff has a kind heart and a keen mind and the punk ass kid from Armageddon sells it and anybody who has seen Affleck’s Batman knows the guy can sell a fight scene but I can’t help but wonder if there are other actors out there, maybe from Boston originally too, who would’ve created more sympathy.

 

The Accountant ben affleck now playing warner bros.

This is the type of film which impresses with its smarts and patience, more so in the first half. Whole scenes are given time to breath where people converse and get a feel for what the other character is planning (Addai-Robinson and Simmons particularly shine in one). When the action comes it is exciting and appears to utilise stunt work more than the manipulation of pixels. The Accountant could have elevated itself beyond the genre if it had been prepared to go a little deeper with the challenges of autism for a person in this line of work, in life in general. Certain threads and characters get dropped without realising their full potential and the finale may have one twist too many. Still after Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad, I’ll take a good film as a win, hell I might even line up for the sequel. In the meantime kids with autism around the world are turning to their parents and saying I now know I can dream big of being an assassin working for criminals when I grow up. So there’s that.

-Lloyd Marken

JASON BOURNE – YOU KNOW THIS FILM

Image result for jason bourneJason Bourne. You know his name. David Webb actually. You know his skills. I’ve never seen a magazine used like that. You know the man. sports matt damon boston red sox world series team america Jason Bourne a new fragrance for men from Paul Greengrass that smells very familiar. A good litmus test for how one will react to Jason Bourne will be in how much they enjoyed The Bourne Ultimatum.

Stop me if you ‘ve heard this one before. Jason Bourne is free, roaming the world having defeated his enemies at the end of the last film. Yet things nag at his conscience, he worries that they’ll come for him and new flashbacks never before experienced suggest other players played by the latest older white guy to appear in this film that point to an even larger conspiracy theory and an older black ops program that predates the one from the previous film. Somebody inexplicably decides to unearth Bourne even though it has never ended well for the CIA. The old white guy turns out to be responsible for everybody’s misery although the may try to be ambivalent about this at first. No matter how many operatives Bourne faces, there will be a particular assassin he duels with for the bulk of the film. There will be at least one spectacular car chase for the ages and one extremely well choreographed fight scene where the music stops and there is only the sound of grunting, impacts of blows and the snapping of bones.

An up and coming actress will have a pivotal role in the CIA and assist Bourne when she uncovers clues about the conspiracy theory. Joan Allen counts as up and coming – I expect big things from her in the future.

It’s no wonder if that all sounds familiar because, if not exactly the plot of the first film The Bourne Identity (a more upbeat film with Bourne actually amnesiac with the delightful Franka Potente as a love interest), it has certainly been the plot of every sequel. The Bourne Supremacy worked as a mirror to the first film with a darker, grittier style that benefitted emotionally from the feelings we had for characters from the first film. It seemed unlikely that the last we’d see of Jason was walking down that street in NYC since our imaginations ran riot with ideas of possibilities for the character. It’s fair to say none would have been as dispiriting as where we find him here. Having been on the run and in hiding for years, he makes a living as an underground fighter living off the grid. Former CIA agent Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), the only other character returning from all previous entries hacks the CIA and retrieves information about Jason’s comic book origins – cough – sorry past. This puts both Parsons and Bourne on the radar of the CIA again who meet in Greece as a taskforce is headed up by new CIA IT guru Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) and over seen by CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones).

Image result for jason bourneImage result for jason bourne tommy lee jones

The hook of The Bourne Ultimatum was Bourne came home to America to finally learn who he really was. This was supposed to make it unique and a continued development from Supremacy. It wasn’t. It was a cold repeat of moments that were better done in Doug Liman’s Identity and Greengrass’s own Supremacy. With star and director having recently rejuvenated their careers with the quality films Captain Phillips and The Martian you can’t be faulted for hoping this sequel might reverse this summer’s trend of undernourishing blockbusters. After all it’s been 9 years and during interviews there was a lot of talk by the creative team of how the world has changed with social media data collection, Snowden, Greece’s debt crisis, civil unrest and terrorist attacks in European metropolitan cities. Indeed there are many references to how the world has changed in this new film but it’s all lip service and nothing deeper is done with them.

If there is something new brought to proceedings it is that Bourne is now aged and dour, the ravages of this life lived are showing and with no character he trusts to play off his dialogue is minimal perhaps due to the fact that screenwriter Tony Gilroy is not on hand to write it. Narratively this makes sense but means Damon has less opportunity to portray a character and not a bas-ass automaton. Jason Bourne matt damon motorcyleThe superhuman Bourne here is a far cry from the highly skilled assassin of the first film who was one of many well trained spies. In this film, people say his name like a punchline or whisper it reflecting his legendary status in the CIA but also our popular culture. For some that will be enough, Matt Damon is back playing Jason Bourne and he remains a likeable if worn down hero. There is something compelling about the character and the way that Damon plays him that places the audience on his side and even here makes one consider even another sequel being made where the character can be further developed.

Greengrass and his team have not lost the knack for staging ambitious action sequences involving hundred of extras in global cities across the world, for example the riots in Athens (shot in Tenerife, Canary Islands) puts real scale and scope on the big screen as opposed to very pretty animation. Rather than quick cutting to death to hide a million sins, the people behind the scenes have done these stunts and captured the action on film in a clear but exciting fashion. The chases and fights are so retro they’re fresh, the destruction of 170 motor vehicles in the making of the car chase on the Las Vegas strip is the kind of vehicular mayhem you rarely see these days and is most welcome. Alicia Vikander has a few layers to her character too but ultimately nobody really engages interest with the audience. Bourne here is a bit too broken, at least Nicky is doing something with her life. In the books David Webb becomes an academic with a family, constantly drawn back into his former life but at least one can argue this way Bourne isn’t saddled with a revenge tale audiences know by rote. Because as it is already, this is a film you’ve seen twice already and when it was done better.

-Lloyd Marken