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The Accountant (2016)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/10/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/9/2017

It seems that at least once a week (or more), I'm writing about the lack of originality in movies. And while this has apparently become my personal soapbox, that doesn't make it any less true -- Today's movies show a distinct lack of new ideas. We've talked in the past about how I would be willing to settle for a movie which took some old, cliched notions and at least shook them up a bit to demonstrate that someone out there still cares about being unique. That's exactly what happened with The Accountant. Much of the film fits very neatly into a stereotypical Hollywood action movie template. However, by putting a spin on one aspect of the story, the movie emerges with something new to say.

As a boy, Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) was identified as being on the Autism spectrum. He also showed a great deal of intelligence and the ability to solve puzzles. As an adult, Wolff works as an accountant and lives alone, attempting to maintain his condition, which involves some obsessive behaviors and issues with stimuli. He is contacted by industrialist Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow) to look over the company books and identify a leak. Meanwhile, Treasury agent Marybeth Medina (Cyntha Addai-Robinson) is summoned by her superior, Ray King (J.K. Simmons), and asked to investigate a shadowy figure who has worked with nefarious criminals around the world, aiding them in laundering their money. Her search points to Christian. Can this mild-mannered, awkward man be not only an accomplice to known despots, but also a highly-trained assassin?

The Accountant meets a number of the expected components of an average action/thriller: Gunfights? Check. Shady corporations? Check. Weapons preparation montage? Check. Flashbacks? Check. Autistic hero? Che...wait, what? Yes, by adding one minor (yet major) change to the standard action-movie pattern, The Accountant presents itself as doing something different. Yes, we've seen heroes with quirks in the past, such as Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon films, but this movie truly does gives us something unique. Christian has difficulty talking to strangers, lives in a very spartan house, does strenuous activities to maintain his sensory issues, and has difficulties when tasks aren't completed. However, through training, he has managed to live with his symptoms and put together a successful business. Actually, two successful businesses, as he's sought after for his ability to find leaks in financial accounts.

And while The Accountant delves into new territory, this also makes it two movies in one. On the one hand, we have the story of Christian Wolff. We see his behavior in the present, as he attempts to traverse a world where he does not feel comfortable. As noted above, the movie presents the specifics of his life, and while this certainly isn't a documentary about Autism, it's clear that someone did some research into specific behaviors and treatments. We also see significant moments from Christian's childhood which demonstrate how he became who he is in the present. We also have the action/thriller in which Christian is a highly-trained killer who has relationships with dangerous people. This part of the movie doesn't always gel with the other part. We learn where Christian learned to fight, but how he get involved in the underworld is a little murky. We also never learn how someone with Christian's specific issues can tolerate traveling the world, meeting strangers. The third act throws a lot of story at us, and some of it gets lost in the noise. Also, in many ways, the subplot involving Medina isn't truly necessary.

Story issues aside, The Accountant is worth a watch. Again, the story contains enough unique elements to set it apart from its contemporaries. I can't say that Affleck was 100% believable in the role, but he does a good job of adopting the mannerisms. The pacing is good and there is just enough of a mystery here to keep the audience involved. The finale presents us with two twists -- one is actually surprising (although it's never fully explained), while the other is standard Hollywood fare. Director Gavin O'Connor handles the action scene and the quieter moments well. And, if nothing else, this the best movie about an action hero who has Autism that I've ever seen.

The Accountant acted just like an accountant on 4K UHD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a 2160p HD transfer. The image is sharp and clear, showing only trace amounts of grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture shows a nice amount of depth, and the level of detail is good. However, the image here doesn't look that much better than Blu-ray and does not deliver the impressive sharpness that I've seen with other 4K Discs. The Disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The range on this track is way off. The sound effects are much, much louder than the dialogue. In order to hear everything which was being said, and to refrain from riding the volume control, I had to turn on the subtitles. There's an appreciable amount of surround sound and subwoofer effects during the action scenes, but the lack of any sort of balance renders this track nearly useless.

The extras here are found on the Blu-ray Disc. "Inside the Man" (11 minutes) explores the Christian Wolff character through comments from the cast and the creative team. They discuss the challenge of having such a unique character in a film like this and the research which went into it. The piece also looks at Christian's surroundings and how those are unique to him. There is a nice amount of on-set footage here. "Behavioral Science" (8 minutes) delves deeper into the research done for the film and describes how Affleck and Director Gavin O'Connor visited individuals who on the Autism Spectrum to get an idea of who Christian should be. "The Accountant in Action" (7 minutes) looks at the action sequences and stunts in the film. We see Affleck on set prepping for fight scenes and there's also a discussion of Christian's unique fighting style. I had hoped that the extras would contain a segment in which Writer Bill Dubuque would have an opportunity to describe where the idea for the film originated.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long