Darke Reviews | The Accountant (2016)

Miss me? I know I know, just been a helluva week I would rather forget since returning from the vacation. I wish I could forget things, but my memory says no to that. I came across a trailer for this a few weeks ago, and this largely seems to be slipping under a lot of peoples radars.

“I’m going to see the Accountant.”

“Didn’t you do your own taxes?”

*heavy sigh*

It has a pretty tight cast, an intriguing trailer, and what by appearances seems to be a ‘semi-positive’ take on Autism.

But how was it?

The script, written by Bill Dubuque (The Judge), follows a few interlacing threads most of which center on The Accountant (Affleck) and his ties to various organized crime as well as his skills in reviewing and cooking books for his clients, both legitimate and illegitimate. I would classify this as a thriller-action in that particular order, as the action pieces are few and far between and used to move the story forward as the mysteries of the movie and motivations of each of the characters unravels for the audience. The story itself is original, with beats recycled from a dozen other movies; but done so in a way that tells something I haven’t quite seen but is familiar and relatable.  If anything is a miracle here, Dubuque made filing taxes and reviewing spreadsheets look and sound amazingly interesting. Truth be told, forensic accounting *is* amazingly interesting, but this is from a girl who loves spending her days trying to uncover what’s actually happening in scenarios she’s presented.

Granted to take the otherwise solid material and make it pop takes a decent director, which we have Gavin O’Connor (Warrior, Miracle). He does a rather good job with alternating between medium length stationary cameras and moving them with the on screen motion. The work there kept the movie interesting as the story unfolds for us as did his direction for the actors. Each performance felt particularly earnest, with one exception which wasn’t quite adding up with the others, but was still good acting. I was not a fan of the diluted palette of the film as it didn’t seem to serve a purpose to me other than washing out the colours of the overall work. Going back to the subject of camera work the “wobbly cam” while not as painful as full on shaky cam was a distinct departure from otherwise good camera work and distinctly noticeable when used. I feel he was inspired by the amazingly shot John Wick for a lot of what was executed here.

Acting wise Affleck turned out a good performance, but I have to lean to my friends who are on the spectrum or have children on the spectrum to tell me if it was accurate. They seemed to treat it well, but that isn’t for me to judge. Anna Kendrick as forensic accountant Dana Cummings is charming as usual and is actually a really rich character; but even the hint of setting her up as a romantic interest for Affleck is a touch annoying. Yes, in real life people with 13 year age differences get together all the time and its fine. In movies, in Hollywood, they generally refuse to cast actresses near the leads age or older for romance….for reasons. No good reasons, just reasons. Again the fault here isn’t on the actors who both do really well, just the nudge in the direction of romance didn’t need to be there for this to work.

J.K. Simmons is not demanding pictures of Spiderman here, but instead a member of the treasury department looking for the Accountant for his own mysterious reasons. Aided by a member of his division, played by Cynthia Addai Robinson (Amanda Waller from Arrow) they try to piece together who he is and what he is. Both performances and characters were everything I needed from them and were absolutely engaging. We also have the addition of Jon Bernthal (Netflix Punisher, The Walking Dead) as a contractors whose job intersects with the accountant; who does just as well and made me smile with his delivery and just general character performance.


This is the Batman movie we deserve. Seriously. The Accountant must be detective and bad ass. I found myself really enjoying the film end to end with only a few sighs at some of the beats.

As I stated before, I can’t speak on the treatment of autism within the narrative, but from what I do know it seems to be treated respectfully. Yes, its a plot device to a point but isn’t the sum of the parts. The dialogue describing the condition late in the film seems to be on par with what I have heard from more progressive medical experts. I really would like some of my friends out there who do have  a point of view to share it if they see this.

Overall, this is a really good movie with only a few flaws to it, but none so grievous as to say no or reduce my enjoyment. It does have less action than you might think, but it has a really good paced structure to it and I didn’t notice the time passing.

Should you see it?

If you like thrillers or thriller action? Yes. Ben Affleck – yes. Honestly, its just a solid movie that absolutely met expectations (which I thought would be good/interesting) and I think it needs some credit.

Will you buy it on BluRay?

Yep. It has some good rewatch value.

Any other reviews coming?

I should be seeing Ms Peregrine this weekend, possibly Little Sister and Girl on the Train, but Ms Peregrine to be sure.

What about Dr. Strange in November?

There’s a whole post coming on that one.

Darke Reviews | Phantoms (1998)

Apparently this is also the month I review movies based on books by Dean Koontz. The other day with Odd Thomas, now with Phantoms. I might have to check to see how many other stories of his have made it to film and by extension to my collection. I do remember seeing this one when it came out and admit to being intrigued by it and it’s cast. This one falls under the near hundreds of movies Dimension films who provided us much in the way of low budget horror, some was effective, some was not.

Was this effective?

As mentioned before the film is based on a Koontz novel of the same name and is given the screenplay treatment by Koontz himself. Now per usual Jess rules, I have not read the book prior to watching the movie and have not read the book in the years since for no particular reason. So judging purely from a cinematic perspective the story does a good job of creating tension and even better job of atmosphere. I can’t say the third act does the movie any justice but that is the difficulty with page to screen adaptations.

The movie is directed by Joe Chappelle, since then mostly a TV director but with shows I rather enjoyed such as Wolf Lake, Witchblade, and the Wire. He does an interesting thing in the movie to create tension. The usage of an empty town and a lot of well chosen but jarring sounds to disorient the audience and the characters. For the most part these work and most of the jump scares are not eye rollingly bad – that is a compliment by the way. He and Koontz also did a great job with the geography to assist in the feeling isolation.

Due to the nature of the story the cast remains relatively small, but effectual. The late Peter O’Toole (My Favorite Year, Lawrence of Arabia) positively owns his scenes in the film and brings weight where a lesser actor wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful or successful. We also have young, we barely knew you, Ben Affleck. He hadn’t quite learned to reserve himself yet and almost disturbingly blinks too much. Odd quirk to notice, but it’s actually kind of distracting. In another we barely knew who you were we have Liev Schrieber (Wolverine, Scream, Salt) in an oddly quirky performance that is a bit off putting, but having seen his other works tells you how good he did here. Our films heroines come in the shape of an on the rise Joanna Going (Dark Shadows 1991, Wyatt Earp) and another dimension films ingenue Rose McGowan (Scream, Charmed). Both play opposite ends of the sister spectrum pretty well with McGowan as the young city girl and Going as the small town doctor. Everyone performs OK, they do well with the panic, they do well when its time to be quiet. Nothing great, nothing really bad either. Just ok.

From an FX perspective, again minus act three, the film relies pretty strongly on practical effects, sound, and lighting to build suspense. Now given Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, and Howard Berger of KNB EFX Group were on the project it explains so much. Now people like me know these names because of the fantastic effects work they have done over the decades and how amazing they are with gore, creatures, and prosthetics. Currently you can find their work on a no name show called The Walking Dead. These guys were incredible now and then and the movie benefits from it. The intelligence of the director to use practical effects here when possible was brilliant as the world was already moving towards not only using but abusing CG. Sadly, what digital effects were used didn’t look good then or now.


Honestly this is a pretty good, if someone dated, suspense film from early Dimensions film works that did better than it’s extraordinarily dated trailer would lead you to believe. The movie does take an odd turn late in the picture which doesn’t quite resonate but also doesn’t destroy the film either.  There are some clear edits and scenes missing, but otherwise it works.

If you aren’t a fan of horror or suspense in general – give this one a good pass. They did a good enough job here to wave you off.

If you like 90’s era suspense and horror I think you could enjoy this film.