Accountant, The (US - BD RA)
Gabe was only looking for a reserved bean counter to help with his taxes...
Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (J.K. Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But, as Christian un-cooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise. (From WB’s official synopsis)
I think I’d like to nominate Gavin O'Connor’s The Accountant as the best ‘watch it on an airplane’ movie of 2016. It’s the type of film that wraps itself in classy images as a means to lull a captive audience into confusing its boilerplate storyline with genuinely smart movie-making. The long-winded, meandering narrative will hold your hand through every bout of turbulence, every screaming baby, and every interruption from the drink cart. Every moment of character development and important plot point will be reiterated both visually and in dialogue (in case your headset isn’t working) – not that it really matters, because you’ll have already guessed how the tale is going to end long before you’ve touched down and are fighting your way to the luggage carousal. On the other hand, if you aren’t watching The Accountant on a plane, you’re in for more of a struggle, as the filmmakers wade through a swap of repetitive events that tell an unoriginal story that is somehow predictable and convoluted all at once. To top it off, the order of events is slightly off, almost every supporting character’s story is unnecessary, and the big reveals/twists occur well after the audience has already worked them out. I have no real opinion as to the accuracy of its portrayal of autism spectrum behavior (I imagine some people may have found it derogatory), but was sort of offended that the filmmakers thought it was necessary to explain it over and over in such obvious terms. This may seem like a petty complaint, but it is a symptom of the film’s central problem – too much information.
The most interesting thing about The Accountant is the way that screenwriter Bill Dubuque’s thematically dippy screenplay bucks up against O’Connor’s slick, terminally po-faced directing choices. I would say that The Accountant fits O’Connor’s M.O., because it has a similar feel to his 2008 crime drama, Pride and Glory, but he doesn’t exactly have a set-in-stone filmmaking style. In fact, his most critically-praised works as writer/director are a coming-of-age comedy ( Tumbleweeds, 1999) and a pair of feel good sports dramas ( Miracle, 2004, and Warrior, 2011) that have little in common with this film’s frosty, David Fincher does Tom Clancy’ vibe. As the sometimes oversimplified story holds the audience’s hand through its paces, O’Connor holds back the action, teasing the title character’s abilities with brief video feeds and promising mayhem with a glance of Christian’s armoury for almost an hour (then again for another half-hour). When the violence finally occurs, it’s an effective shock, even though the setup is muddled from a storytelling standpoint. In turn, the action is crisp and well-orchestrated without being the central point of the movie – i.e. it doesn’t require a big screen to convey its impact, so little is lost on a laptop or tablet-sized screen, like the one you’d use to watch the film on a plane.
The Accountant was, like all of Gavin O’Connor’s movies thus far, shot on 35mm film and is presented in 2.40:1, 1080p video. O’Connor and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey do employ digital grading techniques in order to press their muted, dark look and homogenize the colours. Details are as sharp as the shallowly focused photography will allow and clarity is relatively consistent throughout. The most prevalent issues are grain and posterisation effects, which appear almost exclusively during wide-angle shots and seem to be film artefacts, rather than compression effects. The grain is particularly prevalent during some moments (the fluorescent office rooms and hallways, for instance) and I’m positive that this was a purposeful look. The colours stick to a pretty limited palette (lots of blues and warm browns), but do change a bit, depending on location (sometimes, skin tones are pink, sometimes orange). Contrast levels are dynamic, despite the plush gradations and occasionally weak blacks.
The Accountant is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound. Much of the audio is defined by clear, centered dialogue and Mark Isham’s meditative music, where silence serves as much purpose as sound. The louder action sequences follow suit with a punchy, suspense-driven mix that emphasizes crunching impact over a more prevalent wall of noise. That said, the most impressive aural design bucks the trend of pointed sound. Here, Affleck’s character’s irrational frustration during his attempts at ‘self-stimulation’ is represented by swirling, high volume sound that washes over every channel in the room.
- Inside the Man (10:38, HD) – The cast & crew discuss the development of the characters, the actor’s interpretations, and production design.
- Behavioral Science (8:04, HD) – An exploration of autism spectrum disorders and the filmmakers’ attempts to inject real medicine/science into their movie.
- The Accountant in Action (7:14, HD) – A look at the fight choreography and Affleck’s weapons training.
To reiterate, The Accountant is just fine and may play better on home video than it did on the big screen. It doesn’t beg too much in-depth discussion, because it is the type of movie that lives and dies on its basic pitch. Any viewer that thinks they’d like to see “Jason Bourne, but with a day job and autism” will probably enjoy themselves. Me, I think The Accountant would make a better CBS series than a film franchise. Warner’s Blu-ray looks and sounds impressive, but the extras are fluffy, EPK featurettes.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 10th January 2017
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish and French
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Inside the Man, Behavioral Science, The Accountant in Action, Trailers, DVD Copy,. Digital Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow,
Genre: Action, Crime and Drama
Length: 128 minutes
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