This last weekend the third of the four films Ben Affleck is set to appear in this year was released. While the previous two, Batman V. Superman and Suicide Squad struggled with massive story issues, the latest Affleck lead film, The Accountant, only struggles slightly with maintaining a proper story structure. With that being said, The Accountant does have some redeeming qualities and in all seriousness is not that bad of a film. In fact, the way in which the film structures, its first half is actually quite admirable and gives the audience a lot to take away.
Many writers and filmmakers will state that the key to making an audience like your film is to hook them within the first fifteen minutes, while this is absolutely correct, many filmmakers take this as an excuse to tell all of their films secrets right away. This method can easily entertain your audience right off the bat, but on the downside it also hallows out the rest of the film as the entire mystique of the story has already been spoiled. Yet, for some reason filmmakers choose to front load their films and drag the audience through a lackluster story. Interestingly enough, this does not occur with The Accountant, and as a result, once the audience learns that the bookworm protagonist they have been watching for forty minutes is an action-hero it makes being kept in the dark worth it, as it breathes new adrenaline into the film. The reason why the film was able to hold off introducing such a big trait about its protagonist for so long is because even though they did not outright state the protagonist could easily kill people, they dropped hints that were enough to peak the audiences curiosity so they were on edge waiting for some type of reveal. While this slow progression of characterization seems to be something that all films should have some level of, as it is a simple story telling technique, the studios fear of losing the audience’s attention has made these types of films scarce. From the forty-minute mark on, if The Accountant continued to pay the same level of attention to story development in the second half as the first, it easily could have been one of the better action films of the year, but unfortunately that is not what happened.
While the first half of the film really concentrated on telling its story the proper way, the second half seemed to come off the cuff. In the first half, each scene seemed to contribute to the greater story arc of the film and drive the story forward in a coherent way, but by the second half, the scenes often felt disjointed and as a result the story slowly become muddled as the film went on. The reason in which this occurred was because while the film did such a good job at building up its protagonist, it glazed over what the intentions of the film’s antagonist were. While there was talk of the antagonist’s goals, the actual plot of the antagonist came towards the very end of the film in the form of one line that could easily be missed. In addition, while the arc of the detectives in the film served as a way to explore the background of the film’s protagonist, by the end of the film it became apparent that their overall impact to the plot was meaningless as they did not impact the story.
As a result of its story structure, The Accountant is a very middle of the road film. While it is by no means a bad film, it is also not that great. The exploration of character in the first half sets it apart from its predecessors within the genre, but the issues in its second half quickly erase the accolades. All in all, you will not be upset if you miss the films theatrical run, or if you spend the ten dollars to see the film in theaters. With that being said, Celluloid Cinema awards The Accountant 3 out of 5 Reels.
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