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dir Gavin O'Connor
scr Bill Dubuque
prd Lynette Howell Taylor, Mark Williams
with Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor, Jean Smart, Andy Umberger, Jason Davis, Alison Wright, Robert C Treveiler
release US 14.Oct.16, UK 4.Nov.16
16/US Warner 2h08
Crunching the numbers: Kendrick and Affleck
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
With a slick, overproduced Hollywood sheen, this dark drama spirals into a rather ridiculous action thriller as it goes along, leaving any hint of authenticity on the sideline. It's entertaining, in a kind of mindlessly twisty sort of way, but the script is so unsubtle that each of the plot's turns feel oddly anticlimactic. Which means that the solid cast struggles to deepen the characters.
A high-functioning autistic man, Christian (Affleck) is a genius at sorting out dodgy accounts. He's just been hired by sibling robotics pioneers (Lithgow and Smart) to clean up the books after their accountant Dana (Kendrick) spots an irregularity. Meanwhile, Federal Agent Ray (Simmons) is worried that he won't find his nemesis before he retires, so he co-opts analyst Marybeth (Addai-Robinson) to hunt down the mythical "Accountant" who cooks gangsters' books and carries out violent attacks with military precision. As they close in on Christian, there's also a heartless hitman (Bernthal) on his trail.
Intercut with this are flashbacks from Christian's childhood with his protective little brother and their harsh militaristic father (Treveiler), whose cure for autism is shock and awe. Meanwhile, plot threads are left dangling so they can turn into Big Revelations, and every scene is staged to within an inch of its life, with elaborate sets, surging Mark Isham music and the rush to some sort of action beat.
Affleck tries to build a semblance of a human being out of this hodgepodge character: an inarticulate nerd who can shoot and fight better than highly trained military commandos. He can also engage with people instantly whenever the film requires it. Which, along with Christian's father's "beat it out of him" treatment, makes a mockery of the autism premise. But then, all of the serious subtext is revealed as little more than a red herring for an otherwise very simplistic excuse to wallow in grisly violence.
The costars are solid, with Kendrick providing a spark of interest as Dana, even if the flirtation never goes anywhere. Addai-Robinson brings some more badly needed feminine energy to the film, holding her own opposite Simmons' shameless scene-stealing. Lithgow, Smart and Tambor (as Christian's mentor book-cooker) are terrific in smaller roles, while Bernthal brings a blast of adrenaline, playing against type as a hyperactive killer. All of this makes the film watchable as long as you don't think about it too closely. Yes, it's one of those movies that looks smart but isn't.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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