“The Accountant” – A Hidden Asset

[I am now reviewing movies for BlogCritics.org and the following review first appeared on their site March 17. ]

 

The-Accountant-movie

The Accountant is a 2016 American action thriller that deserves more recognition than it has received to date. Chris Wolff (Ben Affleck), whose brilliance as a forensic accountant is demanded by organized crime syndicates around the globe, is a high functioning Asperger math savant. Chris’s backstory equips him with the martial arts necessary to defend himself against the most violent of his clients.

His clients communicate via cell phone to an anonymous woman whose identity is not known until the very last five minutes of the film. In pursuit of Chris are Ray King (the always satisfying J.K. Simmons), a director in the Treasury Department, and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who is bullied into cooperation.

With the Treasury Department’s financial crime division in hot pursuit, Chris is hired by a robotics company to analyze a multi-million dollar accounting discrepancy. Dana (Anna Kendrick), a low-ranking accountant, is asked to support Chris as he disentangles the complicated income statements. Together they realize that the company has a very troublesome past of malfeasance. Soon the body count rises.

The script is so well crafted and intricate, with major subplots involving what seems like minor characters at first, that the viewer will not know what’s coming. A complicated structure that requires patience and a high level of focus, The Accountant will not be for those whose minds wander as in so many action thrillers. But this brainy film is certainly not your typical adrenaline-pumping action flick. The writers combine the autistic/accounting sides of the savant with the backstory of intense family dysfunction. The tragic family dynamics switch to humor, at moments, for relief.

An intricately structured thriller boasting multiple plot twists and heart-pounding surprise turns, some viewers may think the narrative requires too much concentration. An entertaining, high calibre action drama makes The Accountant a largely satisfying crowd-pleaser for those who like something else besides sniper attacks and car chases. Four out off five stars!

Posted in movie reviews | Tagged , , , , | 4 Replies

4 comments on ““The Accountant” – A Hidden Asset

  1. Hi Diana:
    First, congrats on being a movie reviewer for BlogCritics.org. A smart move for BlogCritics since you do spot-on reviews.

    And thanks for the heads-up on The Accountant. I knew about it, but wasn’t sure it was the movie for me. Now I’m quite interested.

  2. Hi, Diana,
    thanks for the review. The film looked interesting when I saw a trailer. Affleck is very good, so is his lesser known brother, Casey. (So happy Casey well-rewarded.)
    I’ll get out and see it.

    Cheeers!

  3. On a recent trip to Mexico, one of the movies offered on the plane was “The Accountant”. Because of your previous review, I watched it and was rewarded by an engaging performance by two of my favorite actors, Ben Affleck and J.K. Simmons. The premise of the movie seems a little far fetched and complex, which could have been very simplixtically presented, but it was made credible by the good writing and acting of the characters.
    even on the terrible plane system, I found this film engaging and action filled.

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“Zero Days”–Weaponizing Cyberspace

Zero Days the movie

A documentary that sounds the alarm about the world of cyberwarfare, –the weaponizing of the Internet,– “Zero Days” (2016) is our nightmare.

Alex Gibney’s film tells the story of Stuxnet, the cyber espionage attack on an Iranian nuclear facility in 2010 .   A piece of self-replicating computer malware that the NSA and Mossad unleashed together, Stuxnet destroyed an Iranian nuclear facility’s centrifuges. Unintended consequences followed: collateral damage to massive computer systems outside of Iran, some of which belonged to US and Israeli allies. This clandestine mission gone awry opened the specter of the computer-as-weapon.

Frightening in its implications –for our utilities, medical systems, transportation systems, financial databases, everything that is computerized– “Zero Days” is a journey into the bowels of Stuxnet malware. Replicating with no endpoint until it reaches its target, Stuxnet had immediate and multiple paths for destroying the centrifuges essential to Iranian nuclear capabilities. The movie title “Zero Days” refers to the immediate activation of the malware. Once launched there is no way to call it back, not unlike a missile launch. The power of Stuxnet is beautifully envisioned, graphically and organically, as if it were a living, breathing organism.

The two heroes in “Zero Days” are the two Symantec (anti-virus) engineers who discover that Stuxnet malware is sophisticatedly worming its way inside Microsoft Word code. The target is the programmable logic controllers that direct equipment instrumental in operating Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. Similar controllers are used in a myriad of industrial facilities worldwide.

Like a riveting James Bond thriller, the viewer sees an unnamed, pixellated female disguised so that the covert NSA operation can be discussed publicly and candidly.What is particularly frightening is that none of these weaponized missions are fully under the control of any single government.What can be done by the US and Israel in Stuxnet can be done by others in retaliation.

This two-hour documentary is a warning to all of us of the lethal, unsettling potential of cyberwarfare. Our necessary dependence on computers has left the planet vulnerable to countless manipulations—both intentional and accidental. The result is a world that is more perplexing and dangerous than most of us think and few truly understand.

This is a doomsday scenario–if we don’t begin to understand the power of the computer as weapon. “Zero Days” is a prescient warning of things to come, a plea to be aware, to become familiar with our new reality. Otherwise, we will just blunder our way into the future waiting to be harmed by unseen powers.

 

“A Royal Affair”

A Royal Affair

A Royal Affair

A Royal Affair, a 2012 historical Danish film based on a true story, is a surprisingly delicious introduction to court intrigue in 18th century Denmark. Starring Mads Mikkelsen (“Doctor Strange”, “The Hunt”), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl”, “Ex Machina”) and Mikkel Følsgaard, A Royal Affair was nominated for both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

A Royal Affair centers on a delicate balancing act involving the young mad King Christian VII (an astonishing Følsgaard), the royal physician Struensee (Mikkelsen) and the young beautiful, highly educated Queen Caroline Mathilda (Vikander). Part forbidden romance between the queen and Struensee and part bromance between the mad king and his devotion to Struensee, this gripping tale changes the course of Danish history.

Soon after the royal marriage, Queen Caroline Mathilda realizes that her passion for the arts will be quashed, as many of her favorite books–some involving revolutionary political ideas–are banned by the state. Moreover, King Christian VII suffers from severe mental illness and is horrifying in his brutality, resulting in a deeply unhappy marriage for both of them.

When the German doctor Johann Struensee is recruited to be the mad king’s personal physician, he is soon the king’s confidant. The Danish Council takes advantage of King Christian’s disabling mental illness, ruling by fiat to serve their own interests against the welfare of the general populace. Struensee quietly begins advising the king, writing speeches which advocate his own progressive views based on Rousseau. Several reforms are passed but Struensee has alienated the aristocracy and threatens their wealth. The King, on the other hand, is soothed and becomes a more gentle and engaged human being with Struensee’s encouragement and support.

The Queen and Struensee fall in love and begin an affair, while Struensee simultaneously continues to become closer to the King and is given the title of Royal Advisor. Ultimately rendered de facto leader of Denmark, Struensee abolishes censorship and torture, and reduces the serfdom and peonage inherent in the the aristocratic system of property Heartbroken by the secret life he leads as both the queen’s lover and the king’s confidant, Struensee straddles between the two: an impossible mix of allegiances.

A Royal Affair is an Oscar-worthy production with beautiful recreation of scenes and costumes, impeccable acting, and an original plot revolving around the machinations of power, a mad king, a depressed queen, and an idealistic and revolutionary physician who fails in his attempts to heal all wounds.

This Danish film is a cinematic treasure not to be missed.

Note: Available on Netflix as a DVD.