It took me months to watch The Accountant, and an equally long time to finally review it! Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff, on the surface an accountant and a math savant, but underneath he’s something more. When a low level accountant (Anna Kendrick) at a major robotics and prosthetics company discovers some discrepancies in their financial records, the head of the company (John Lithgow) brings in Wolff to “uncook” the books and perform a forensic audit on his company to figure out where funds are being leaked to and by whom. Wolff is a highly functioning autistic math savant so solving the numbers case is simple to him; much simpler than dealing with the staff of the facility, especially Kendrick’s character Dana who shows genuine interest in the problem and wants to help. But Wolff prefers to act as a “lone wolf” and it takes barely a day for him to confirm the findings and get a lead on who might be behind them. As he gets closer to the truth though, the suspects start dying. Unknown to his employers, Wolff is not just an accountant, he’s also a professional assassin who likes to take matters into his own hands when he sees a wrong that needs to be righted. As the plot thickens Wolff is brought into conflict with another assassin hired by the person responsible for stealing the company funds. Unbeknownst to Wolff, the other assassin is his estranged brother Brax (Jon Bernthal). Naturally the two meet in the film’s climax, but what will be the results?
Very few actors are as polarizing to audiences as Ben Affleck. He’s one of those actors who it seems people either love or hate. I’m probably in the minority here, because I’m more “middle of the road” with him. I haven’t seen that many of his films, but of those that I did see, there were some I liked, and some I didn’t. I really liked him in Gone Girl where I think he did a tremendous job of making me forget he was Ben Affleck. I didn’t really like him in Argo, where I found his directing solid, but his own performance very bland, and very “Ben Affleck”. Here though I enjoyed him. His performance was confident, and once again, he didn’t seem too “Ben Affleck” for the part. He clearly did his research when it came to playing an autistic character, and he was very expressive in his performance. The action scenes too were very good, and kept me entertained and engaged. I really like Anna Kendrick, and she was her usual fun and slightly quirky self in the role as a junior accountant, but she may have been a little underutilized, and at the same time a little forced into the script. J.K. Simmons as a director at the Treasury Department who has been on Wolff’s trail for years (but not exactly for the reasons we expect) was excellent as always. I’ll go out of my way to watch any movie with J.K. in it, no matter how small his role. A real treat in The Accountant was Jon Bernthal as Brax. I had only known him as Shane from the first few seasons of The Walking Dead, and didn’t really have an opinion of him one way or another. Here, he really shined, and I don’t think the part could have been any better cast. I’ve heard good things about his performance as the Punisher in the Marvel Netflix Daredevil series which I believe has earned him a spin-off solo series, so I look forward to watching those too.
Quite entertaining, and it threw a few twists at you along the way as the suspense and the mystery deepened. Who was eliminating the fraud suspects? Wolff? Brax? It wasn’t 100% clear until the end. What were Agent King’s interests in Wolff? Did they have a past? Who was the computerized voice that appeared to be working for Wolff, but was also seemed to be giving tips to the Treasury Department? All these led to a very solid action-thriller….which is nothing what real accounting is like I’m told.
Bottom Line: The final shootout scenes reminded me a lot of John Wick, which is never a bad thing.
Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a powerful, workaholic D.C. lobbyist who uses every trick in the book to achieve her goals. But her impressive success record, is on the line when she switches sides and leaves one agency to work for another. She fights for the causes she believes in, and the causes she believes she can win for. Originally she and her team were selected by her boss (Sam Waterston) to fight for gun activists and prevent a bill from being passed, but she is approached by the owner of a smaller, far less prestigious agency (Mark Strong) to fight against her former firm and fight for the gun control bill. Bringing some of her team with her and joining her new team the lies, deceit, back room dealings and shenanigans of lobbying and political intrigue unfold brilliantly on the screen before us.
Wow, this was an incredible film. It clearly had a great ensemble cast but Jessica Chastain stood out and was simply fantastic. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, but sadly overlooked at the Oscars. I’d say that her performance here was every bit as good and as worthy as her previous Oscar nominations for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty. At first I was a little leery of the film’s runtime of 2 hours 10 minutes, but it was paced perfectly and there wasn’t a wasted minute or slow scene on the screen. There were twists and turns as you would expect, but just when I though I had Miss Sloane figured out, she bobbed and weaved away from my expectations with tremendous results. The climax of the film was definitely something I did not see coming, and I really do love that about this film, and films in general. I love to be surprised when I watch movies, which hasn’t happened a whole lot lately, so Miss Sloane was a special treat.
Bottom Line: A very interesting look at the complex system that is lobbying in the United States. The film isn’t really as pro gun or anti gun as you might think, rather it’s all about the corruption and dishonesty of politics. The film could have been arguing about the MacGuffin bill or Johnson rods and been just as effective.
The frontier life was a hard life, and not everyone who tried it could cope. Miss Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) is a strong willed and independent woman living the pioneer life. Through a series of events, she has been selected by her church (led by Reverend Alfred Dowd played by John Lithgow), to transport three women; Arabella Sours (Grace Gummer), Theoline Belknap (Miranda Otto) and Gro Svendsen (Sonja Richter); who have each been driven mad by pioneer life, across the dangerous frontier lands back to Iowa by covered wagon. As the single woman realizes how dangerous her task will be, she comes across a man left to hang named George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) who she employs to guide and assist her on the journey.
The Homesman intrigued me when I saw the trailer a few weeks back, and I knew that Tommy Lee Jones starred, directed and co-wrote the screen play. I didn’t realize that it was also produced by Luc Besson, so I definitely felt I had to see it. The story was very authentic feeling, and unravelled very neatly as Jones told the story of the disturbed women through flashbacks, intermixed with scenes showing how their madness was affecting their current lives. The supporting cast was all excellent, as the “ladies” were very good for characters who were for the most part silent and non-communicative. Swank was also strong as the lead actress, but I also enjoyed the stellar background characters such as Hailee Steinfeld as a girl working in a hotel, Meryl Streep as the preacher’s wife who is expecting the delivery of the ladies, Lithgow as the town preacher, and even James Spader as a greedy hotel developer who refuses to help the travellers.
It wasn’t exactly a western, as The Homesman didn’t contain the traditional western gunfights, fist fights and cowboys, but it does have the hardship, and feel of the west and the time period. Capped by excellent performances that show us that even those among us who seem the strongest could still suffer from the madness brought on by their situations.
Bottom Line: Now I think I really need to see The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Jones’ previous directorial effort…