Friday, October 14, 2016

Plot Holes And Clunky Exposition Make 'The Accountant' A Write-Off

This review originally appeared on

The Accountant stars Ben Affleck as a high functioning autistic man who is a strip mall CPA during the day, and a criminal bean-counter/assassin at night. He doesn't dress up in a bat costume, but he does like to gruffly whisper into the ears of his would-be victims before killing them.

The film begins with a shadowy man entering a building and soon laying waste to its inhabitants. We then flash back to 1989, where young Chris Woolf (Seth Lee), the older of two brothers, is brought to a neurological center by his concerned parents. He exhibits OCD tendencies, self-soothing behavior like rocking and finger tapping, and the occasional total freak-out.

He's offered a place at the center, but his father refuses, insisting the only thing that can "cure" Chris is an increased exposure to the things he's reactive to, which, in his mind, means forcing Chris and his brother into martial arts lessons that leave them bloody.

Jumping to the present day, we meet the older, buffer Chris Woolf (Ben Affleck), a loner living a single-set-of-silverware life, driving from his big empty house in an Illinois suburb to his strip-mall office, where help clients figure out how to turn their jewelry-making hobbies into small business write-offs. You can tell Chris is a math genius because he likes to solve accounting mysteries by writing out numbers on see-through glass.

We also meet Ray King (J.J. Simmons) the director of Crime Enforcement at the Department of Treasury, who is obsessed with finding out just who this mysterious homicidal accountant is, and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), a young analyst he basically blackmails into solving the mystery. Why? I guess because Ray King doesn't know how to use Google, since that's basically all Marybeth Medina does to get to the bottom of the Chris's real identity.

The cast also includes John Lithgow as the head of a robotics firm that hires Chris to examine its books, Anna Kendrick as Dana Cummings, a junior accountant at the firm (and, for a brief and agonizingly awkward moment, the potential object of Chris stilted affection) and Jon Bernthal as an equally mysterious assassin that wants Chris and Dana dead.

The movie wants to lay out its pieces like the jigsaw puzzles Chris can so easily put together, using a non-linear timeline filled with flashbacks, tossing out plot twists here and there, and introducing characters with no context. But towards the middle director Gavin O'Connor seems to lose faith in that presentation, and instead sticks in a solid fifteen minutes of clunky exposition, explaining everything we've just seen.

And even with that explanation, it still leaves so many plot holes and loose ends flailing about I wonder if the hope is to turn this into a franchise? It definitely seems to set itself up for a sequel no one will want to see.

Though, to be honest, I'd rather see a sequel to this than Ben Affleck's upcoming Batman movie.

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