Monday, 14 November 2016

The Accountant a film at many levels

The Accountant is a film which can be appreciated at several levels although the mixture will not please everyone who want every film to have one storyline, one approach or message. The film is entertaining as an action movie, a thriller with a conclusion which is always in doubt, a black wry comedy and an attempt to improve understanding about the nature of autism, Asperger’s’ and those who function best when appreciated and supported for being different and for what they are. The film is likely to have a greater ‘educational’ impact because it attracts the mainstream cinema audience and therefore does not just appeal to an already receptive or converted audience.

The Australian television series the Code, where its second series concluded its six episode showing on BBC  Four last night (November 5th 2016) has a  similar approach with the main character at the genius end of the spectrum, dependent on his brother for the greater part of his life but now has an adult relationship with a woman who finds that he meets her different needs sufficiently for her accept the implications of his inability to fit within the box which the state wants him function if he is to be allowed to repeatedly cross the line. More on the main storyline of the Code later and where I have previously covered the first three-episode story line which centred on child abduction and trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The main story of the Accountant is the need for Raymond King played by J K Simmons, the Director of Financial Crimes at the US Treasury Department, to learn the identity and location of the Accountant before he retires from the service and it is only midway during the film that we learn of the incident when the Accountant had a gun to his head and decided not to pull the trigger because he had answered convincingly in the right way to a question about whether he had been a good parent. Film is best medium for demonstrating that the appearance of something is not its independent reality and included in the first week of cultural experience is the original 1938 film version of the Agatha Christie’s   The Lady Vanishes and where I also viewed another approach to a lady on a train, The Girl on the Train and to different perceptions of the same repeated event in the new Sky Atlantic HBO series Westworld which covers the use of synthetic humans and which is also the subject of Humans the second  Channel Four series which explores  the issues of artificial intelligence and robotics and which the creative genius is warning humanity about the dangers involved to its future.

The Director of Financial Crimes recruits a brilliant young analyst in his department to find the identity and location of the Accountant for him and to do so within the few weeks left before his retirement from the service, and he does this by blackmailing her having discovered she has effectively lied on her application to become a public service official which is an offence likely to be punished with a term of imprisonment. Because the film is already underway and engaging I did not immediately say “hey, hang on a minute, why is he only doing this now,” and “why if she is the right person does he need to blackmail her?” And any way “why pick someone with a past that they must want keep private and remain vulnerable when he retires?” The answer to such questions is not just crucial to understanding this film but to understanding how democratic governments operate in getting and using people to do things, break laws, break rules, which are not allowed because it is a democratic state, and rightly so, but needs to do in the interests of the state, and which can also be in the public interest and becomes one of the exceptions, to prove the rule.

Cynthia Adda- Robinson as Marybeth Medina solves the mystery but in the final scene as she appears to become the new Director of this government service or at least on a rapid rise to doing so, she agrees not to disclose the identity of  the Accountant, or pursue with a view to capture, prosecution and imprisonment, but allows his continued freedom to do what he does, which includes killing criminals and people employed to protect criminals, because of the information which he provides through his assistant, a computerised female voice- the Voice, and which has led to solving a number of high profile public interest financial crime cases over more than a decade. 

This part of the film is about how the state uses creatives (not psychopaths) in peace time as well as in war. Moreover, Marybeth Medina is portrayed herself as a creative. Throughout my writings and comments on other people social media writings I have tried to explain the difference between creatives and psychopaths. Creatives have strong moral codes, lifelong loyalties, care about the implications of what they do and are not therefore psychopaths who have no standards, no loyalties, are egocentric and do not care about the impact of their behaviour on others. However, the creative does not always recognise the laws and rules of the state, his employers of where he or she is and this is also the subject of the second six-episode Australian TV series shown on BBC Channel Four, the Code which came to an end on Saturday and which will be reviewed separately, having in previous recent writing mentioned the issue of child abduction and trafficking for sex which was one of the storylines in the first three episodes.

There is often confusion in the public mind brought about by such films as the Dirty Dozen, convicted murders released from prison to do mission impossible behind enemy lines with the promise of a pardon in the unlikely event of returning home alive. In the same way, factually the F.B.I and what is now known as Homeland Security in the USA did arm’s length deals with the certain Mafia bosses and crooked union bosses during the second World War and which affected what happened to them when the war ended.

 A crucial feature of this film is the connection between the Accountant and the government, centred on the Gambino Family, one of the five Italian original crimes families that used to control politicians, public officials and crime in New York. The five families (Bonanno, Columbo, Genovese and Luchesse the others) still function with two heads in prison and this aspect is one of several in this film which helps explain why the USA is the strongest, wealthiest and most powerful nations on the planet, with half the population of its prisons sentenced because of involvement with drugs.

It is noteworthy in passing that the President of Columbia is visiting the UK to meet our head of State and Prime Minister following the peace treaty with its revolutionary guerrilla socialist army which has exploited the production of cocaine to meet the needs of USA citizens, fuelling capitalism and political corruption, and where there are parallels past and present with the involvement of the I.R.A and  guns for drugs, and now protecting the ongoing peace process and when the peace treaty has been rejected in the referendum with Columbia People using the Referendum to protest about several aspects of government and their own position in that society, bur where the President, who has recently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize he is confident he can renegotiate a different  form of treaty which the people will agree in a second referendum, something which the UK Prime Minister is desperate to avoid because attempting to do would split the Tory Party, force an early general election and create mayhem on the streets as threatened by Nigel Farage with his warning made on Andrew Marr on Sunday akin to Enock Powell’s  rivers of  blood speech.

One other new film released last week was Nocturnal Animals which provides another reality insight to present day USA and which I will see before staying up to find out which of the two wealthy and creative politicians will the country elect as its next president.

The Accountant in this film is Christian Wolf, played by  Ben Affleck,  who himself is a larger than the average life  former child actor, now director as well as  continuing lead actor in a wide range of genre from Batman to Argo, from Gone Girl to a documentary on disabilities, to political activism as a Democrat and helping out with  a food bank, to promoting charitable work in  Eastern Congo to owning a  number of  homes including an estate, to marriage with three children but also high prolife relationships with internationally known women Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez. His family background and his life to-day are extraordinary for a man still in his forties.

The film provides the backstory of the Accountant as a child with challenging behaviour, and devoted brother with whom he can communicate and his parents divided over how best to bring him up resulting in his mother leaving.  I have always disliked labelling people although saying they are on a spectrum has some validity if it helps to identify an early need for special measures to enable everyone to develop their innate and acquired abilities to their maximum potential. Too often assessment and labelling is about monitoring, management and control, of the state deciding how to make use of and then discard when the use is no longer needed.

There is need for more general public awareness of  how babies are made in terms of their neurology and physiology and where there has been some widening understanding in relation to the spectrum of sexuality and its implications with the government right to resist the proposed blanket amnesty in the recent Private Members Bill in the House of Commons for all those prosecuted for sexual offences when the law punished homosexual and lesbians for involvement in sexual activity at an age when heterosexual activity was not a crime. The government correctly pointed out the need to exclude those where prosecuted for offences involving someone then a minor in law.  It all remains a grey area subject and where I was interested in the programme on Channel Four on Sunday 6th of November on how Prince Phillip came to marry Queen Elizabeth with Earl Mountbatten deciding that his protégé should groom the princess when she was 13 and he 18 years.

The father of the Accountant is in the military, a qualified  psychologist in intelligence, who has a simple philosophy as most military people come to have, of dividing  everyone between winners and losers, survivors or victims and therefore arranges both his sons to be trained to become experts in the use of weapons and in the martial arts of self-defence and  in my judgement it is not possible to assess and judge this film without understanding its context of the USA psyche and its developed varied sociological extremes unlike here in the UK, where the move since the 1970’s has been towards  a centrism which has tolerated the extremes of capitalism, fascist and intolerant regimes with which we trade but attempted to end political activism communism and socialism, the latter led by Tony Blair (see Gay Johnsons e-book. Unlike in the USA where there has been successful foreign venture after its failures in Korea and Vietnam, and compounded with the failures of 9/11, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, the UK has had the success of the Falklands War which out the great back into Britain after the humiliation of Suez and the loss of the Empire. While the survival of our head of state and the Brexit vote and anti-Russian activity is being exploited to promote a unifying national identity, Donald Trump is offering to make the USA great again without spelling out precisely how he plans to do this without spilling more of his country’s young blood, just as Hilary Clinton talks of healing divisions while promoting centrist capitalism as Teresa May is also attempting to promote.

The mother of the Accountant wanted him to attend a specialist residential centre for those at the socially disabled Asperger’s end of the autism spectrum and where both wanted to protect their son from the bullying and hostility from those whose response to something they do not understand and who feel threatened by is to attack. It is on his visit to this centre that Christian communicates with someone who continues not to speak directly throughout the rest of her life and where during the film we learn lives at such (or the same) special centre now funded by Christian and uses the best state of the art computer communicator. Because she has the computer power to engage with all other computers Christian has the intelligence and mobile information capacity to undertake his day jobs without capture and to communicate with the vehicle for achieving justice, in this instance, the Director of Crime Investigation at the US Treasury. In the Australian TV series Code the creative lead character is involved with Cyber protection and control nationally and who in turn work closely with the USA and UK cyber intelligence services. among others

One reason that the UK Government restricted what is now the Jay Inquiry to one aspect of the past abuse of  children and to England and Wales using the nonsense of different legal systems and devolved administrations to exclude Northern Ireland and Scotland and limit its broader international dimension is that just as with the use of international crime organisations during World War II and the use of illegal drug substances to both finance make use of  government  or insurgent  forces in off the books interventions in other countries (Ireland, Columbia, Afghanistan come immediately to mind) is the issue of Child abuse abduction for sexual trafficking, for slave labour and for body parts) a feature of Code but not sure about the Australian Royal Commission and which has now come to the fore with allegations re Hilary Clinton as the USA Presidency election comes to a boil and where Donald Trump appears to be surviving the allegations of misogyny.

The front occupation of the Accountant is a small-town practice in which he helps local ordinary people beat the system and which has echoes of the recent film Hell or High Water, in which two brothers set out to beat the bank that ruined their family. The Accountant lives locally in a deceptive ordinary middle class suburban home but he also a large lockup with a small metal mobile home in which he keeps a substantial amount of cash, an original Jason Pollock and an impressionist work (I forget the painter’s name) together with standby weaponry, and where he says it takes only few minutes to hitch to vehicle and set off to a new safe destination, and one which I suspect he has already arranged, thus signalling the potential for a sequel film.

Although there is great wealth in this trailer it is only a fraction of that he has accumulated by the rest of his accountancy practice which concentrates on unravelling cooked books where crime organisation discovered that their accountants or senior members with a knowledge of computerised accountancy have cooked the books to siphon fortunes for themselves and where payment for work undertaken includes  the  million dollar artwork which he is able through Voice and her computer to sell to private collectors.

Voice can detect the appointment and work of Marybeth Medina and suggests to Christian that he take up the offer of a contract from Living Robotics, a company seeking to go public which provides the latest aids for the physically disabled, and where one of its employed accountants has detected activity which indicates a siphoning of financial assets.

The firm is owned by Lamar Blackburn, his unmarried sister Rita and their friend in establishing the company. The Accountant arrives on the first day of the contract, having requested copies of all the accountants for the past 15 years during which the company has taken off in production and financial prosperity and he request that all the associated paper work is accessible. He finds the in-house accountant asleep having worked through the night to prepare the information requested and she anticipates that she will be expected to work with him. The offer is rejected but they do meet outside the offices when eating their packed lunches separately and there are the beginnings of a potential connection. Again, working overnight Christian fills the room with figures from wall to ceiling as a visual representation of the way of his photographic mind and to be able to demonstrate what he has found to Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick - The twilight Saga and Pitch Perfect films) who has his kind of obsessional persistence as well as social isolation. He back story suggest that her life has been marked by social reject from peers as a child and teenager but she has led a quiet worked centred life and no attempt to function out the box set by her parents, teachers and employers. The one act of rebellion is to purchase an expensive dress to be worn once, to feel good and be noticed. There is a similarity between her character and that of the student who became the female partner of the creative in The Code. While the Accountant works outside the law, the autistic heroine of the Danish and Swedish drama series Bridge works as a senior police detective as does the French female lead officer, another on the autism spectrum in the first series of Missing.

Just after 24 hours of work Cristian advises Rita Blackburn (Jan Smart) that he knows who as well as how and the amount the fraud ($61 million) and goes off to write his report. Rita following consultation with her brother immediately ends the contract with a payoff. and does required his written report, which frustrates and goes against his natural his determination as a Completer Finisher. At this point I introduce myself into these notes as an assessed Creative and Shaper with Completer Finisher management qualities. The reason for doing so is that I attended one the top international general management course for existing directors in commercial organisations with a handful of places taken up by those in organisation where shareholder profit is not the principal focus.  The role of genius creatives (I am not at the genius level) in generating wealth creation was covered and the challenges they can pose if they are caught crossing the line between what is legal or not and the activity in question cannot be made to go away.

In such an instance, it is essential for the organisation involved to have in advance the means to distance themselves from any wrong doing which has become, or is likely to become public.

Over recent decades the best way to use such individuals is for them to be self-employed contractors who are off the  books and the recently reviewed film 13 hours  based on recent events in Libya  which led to the  killing of the US Ambassador is one  example of using self-employed contractors in terms of the provision of intelligence and security,  but they can  also be used to ensure there is no record of someone who has  crossed the line for their own  purposes as  has occurred in Northern Ireland and which explains  that the formal inquest into some death will not take places for one or more decades in the future. In several recent action films and series there is the involvement of international private security as well as on and off the books state security and intelligence operatives with the Australian TV Code series and a Danish Sweden three series the Bridge also relevant.

In the Accountant, as in the cinema adaptation of Dan Brown’s Inferno and Jack Reacher-the Return, both recently experienced and reviewed, the fictional off the books clean up squads are led by a highly trained and martial arts specialists and assassins. The Accountants ends is the kind of” in all the Gin Joints of the world (Casablanca) you enter mine” moment!  

In the film first the male partner in the firm is made to appear the company fraud villain, when he commits suicide by overdosing on insulin as an alternative to his wife being violated and killed, and when the Accountant questions this and goes to question the sister he finds her shot dead and becomes aware the assassin has ability to match his own. He is forced to attend the home of one of the couples locally to where he lives who he has helped because they are being held at gun point to make him visit. He rescues the couple and kills those sent to kill him. He realises that if he is being targeted because of his involvement with the Robotics firm then so too will Dana and he is just in time to stop a four person kill team.  He takes Dana first to the lock up for cash where her curiosity results in discovering his paintings, money and weapons. He then takes her to an expensive hotel suite while he uses Voice to help find the location of Lamar who is obviously the person behind the attempts on his and Dana’s life.

Meanwhile Marybeth Medina has located the small-town premises used by the Accountant and visit his suburban home discovering the digital and weapons protection which he has installed at the property but not immediately the secure lock up base.  We learn the circumstances which led the Accountant to serve a term of imprisonment because of an incident at the funeral of his mother in which the father take a bullet for his son and dies. It is when in prison that the Accountant is shown how to survivor in prison by his cell companion who happens to be the former accountant and fixer from the Gambino crime family.  The man had recruited as an informer by the US government to bring down the Gambino family and upon release from prison he is captured and tortured to death.

The Accountant seeks revenge on the family on learning of the torture and death of his prison mentor and it is when on his revenge killing spree that he encounters Ray King that he poses the question which stops his murder and leads to the information about wrongdoing fed to the government by Voice on behalf of the Accountant.

The Accountant also begins to explain something of himself and why he made the effort to save the life of Dana because he has recognised in her something of himself in terms being considered different and being alone to the point of isolation. She, understandably sees him as her saviour when first she appreciates that her work became the trigger for the death of two of three owners of the company and the attempted assassinations of the Accountant and herself.  But the Accountant is a man of honour and a code and as no intention of abusing the relationship opportunity which he has always longed for and he leaves her making it clear that that he is potentially on a one-way mission to settle his account with Lamar and end the attempt on their lives.

He is right to not to assume the outcome of the venture, even having gained access to the digital surveillance system which is also something which occurs during the final two episodes of the Code. The place is heavily fortified and the Security leader warns that their foe cannot be underestimated despite the superiority of their armed manpower. A feature of the way the Assassin has functioned is his way of coping with stress and where in depth digital sound and voice analysis led to his detection. It also becomes something which prevents the Robotics hired Assassin team leader to pause before using his superior ability when the Accountant is wounded during the process of killing or disabling the rest of the security protect member.

Another aspect of his self-preservation regime has been body building, coping with loud music given his previous sensitivities, coping with physical pain and self- treatment of injury. It is important to stress that his murderous villainy is nothing to do with his inherited and challenging personality but the outcome of the psychological condition insisted upon by his father from the best of intentions and which was also rational in terms of the everyone able to carry and use gun culture of the United States.

I say this because of that of the gin joints in the world moment when Christian realises that his adversary is his brother Braxton who was required by his father to follow the same use of arms and martial arts programme as his brother. The two men do fight for a short time but this has nothing to do with their respective assignments or the requirements of that moment. Braxton has remained furious because Christian had not only attended the funeral of the mother who had abandoned them, but had asked his father and not him.  Christian explains that he had wanted to protect his brother, hence not attempting to find and make contact and that he regretted that the decision to attend the funeral had led to the death of their father.

Braxton stand by while Christian executes Lamar and the two brothers agree to meet on a regular basis again signalling the potential of a sequel This also become evident after Voice relays to Medina the information necessary for the bureau to take the credit and close the Robotics case and at the typical USA media conference Medina signals after deliberation that she accepts the role chosen for her by the retiring Director speaking of their success team effort.

Christian is seen motoring off with his trailer attached leaving the lock up bare like the basement prison in Thirteen or the Bunker in Missing although in both series a torn passport and a receipt left behind are the only potential clues discovered and given a significance.  Before departing on the mission to kill Lamar Christian has left a note for Dana and with mission success she can return to her home, remedy the destruction the assassination attempt on her created and rebuild her life.  Two delivery men arrive, as the two assassins had done before. They present a heavily framed and packed large picture which she realises is just the cover for the Pollock below. This signals that Christian has resettled and that their connection is not necessarily at an end. touch.

It was evident from the audience reaction that everyone enjoyed the film and laughed with the film and not at it. I had no means of knowing if some of the aspects I have raised were also shared. I had intended to continue covering the final part of the Code and the Bridge and to include something about the foul-mouthed comedy Grimsby which is also about two brothers leading very different lives with one working for government an undercover assassin. I am stopping however because of the arrival of John Carlton’s, book -Don’t you hear the B Bombs Thunder? about the involvement of young people on Tyneside in the late fifties and early sixties in politics and protest movements especially the CND and Direct Action. This is now my next priority and I still also need to write about Gay Johnston important new work and where she was responsible for my speaking at a Labour party conference fringe meeting with Barbara Castle, Dr David Owen and David Ennals the other speakers.

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