Despite The Accountant sounding more like a motivational video for the Deloitte graduate recruitment programme, it is in fact a heart-racing thriller.
The 2016 Ben Affleck film is like Rain Man meets The Punisher – which, incidentally, would have made a much better title.
Affleck stars as the titular pencil-pusher, who also happens to be an OCD-afflicted mathematics savant.
Oh, and an assassin.
And if there’s one desirable quality in your gun-for-hire, it’s OCD: attention to detail when aiming, a tidy crime scene, and you don’t have to worry that he hasn’t washed his hands when you shake on a deal.
As you can probably tell, when it comes to films about the filthy lucre, The Accountant is far from top dollar.
Follow us on a journey through the seven best movies about money – just make sure you don’t step on any of the cracks in the pavement, otherwise the world will set on fire.
Best money films
Perhaps the most famous of all the moolah movies, this 1980s classic exemplifies the era’s attitude towards success – and excess – with Charlie Sheen (pre-’tiger blood’ days) settling under the wing of Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko, a narcissistic corporate raider who thinks he’s a lizard or something. Gekko’s mantra is ‘greed is good’, which is something that can be applied to almost any aspect of life, perhaps most perfectly in Burger King when you’re extremely hungover. He also popularised the shirts which have a contrasting collar colour, but they should never be applied to any aspect of life. Either way, and regardless of how ruthless Gekko was, his fictional spoils still convinced many other potential sociopaths to head to Wall Street and aim for his lifestyle in real life.
Before Vin Diesel was driving fast cars and strutting around with his arms outstretched, turns out he was sporting a head of hair and being a successful stockbroker in this 2000 movie. It follows a young upstart played by Giovanni Ribisi, as he embarks on a career as a broker at a dodgy firm in New York, eventually realising that the company is employing nefarious tactics to bring home the bacon. The film owes a lot to Wall Street in particular, as many of the characters quote it religiously and live by its rules. It also owes a lot to real-life firm Sterling Foster – director and screenwriter Ben Younger went for an interview there in the 1990s and was inspired to make the film. It doesn’t owe a lot to NOS canisters though – that’s the other Vin Diesel film that you’re thinking of.
You could argue that this film was less about money and more about axe murderers (and Huey Lewis and the News), but the fact that the film’s main character, Patrick Bateman, is an investment banker and is utterly obsessed with the dollar, makes it an easy inclusion in this list. If you take away all the truly gruesome murder and explicit sex, what’s left is still a hilarious satire on greed and vacuous consumerism, with Christian Bale putting in the best performance of his career as the eponymous nutjob. The film’s razor-sharp comment on the shallow nature of yuppies is highlighted by the best scene in the whole movie being about business cards. Interestingly, it’s also the name of the upcoming Trump biopic.
The Big Short
The Big Short is not a film for people who don’t understand how the housing market works. It makes attempts at explaining the intricacies of finance, in one case using Margot Robbie in a bath to make things easier to understand, but in actual fact making things even more confusing as a result. However, if you’re on the ball, then there’s much to like here, as the 2007/8 financial crisis is explored by, well, making fun of it a bit. It’s a comedy about something that isn’t actually very funny – you know, like Pain & Gain, 30 Minutes or Less or anything with Ashton Kutcher in.
Glengarry Glen Ross
This tense movie depicts a real estate office and the chaos that ensues when its agents are told that all but the top two performing salesmen will be fired. Obviously this means the book is thrown swiftly out of the window, and everyone becomes very desperate indeed. In particular, Shelley ‘The Machine’ Levene, played by Jack Lemmon, who’s battling against his recent career stalls, despite his past earning him his impressive nickname. The movie is most famous for Alec Baldwin’s OTT ‘motivational’ speech, wherein he berates and hurls abuse at employees, a tactic which doesn’t really help anybody.
The Wolf of Wall Street
If you are a man that has ever said the word ‘banter’, then you will have seen The Wolf of Wall Street – anybody else, well, you’ve probably seen it, too. The modern classic starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a trader rising to the top by dubious means is one of Scorsese’s best ever movies. It shows both the upsides and downsides to making a hell of a lot of money very quickly in the 1980s, by following the actually-quite-a-dickhead Jordan Belfort as he does lots of drugs, has lots of sex, and fleeces a lot of people out of money. The sad thing is, it’s all based on a true story. Check out the prequel, An American Werewolf in London, about a bloke who gets sacked from HSBC in Walthamstow because he eats the branch manager’s brain.
Yet another film about those pesky traders getting up to no good, this time it concerns a naughty derivatives broker played by Ewan McGregor, who single-handedly brings down the UK’s oldest merchant bank, Barings. He does this by hiding the ridiculous amount of debt that he’s quietly racking up (£827m), before realising he’s way too far down the creek and subsequently legs it to Malaysia. This is no place for spoilers, but let’s just say it doesn’t go too well for him – basically, if you’re losing your company loads of money, at least tell someone before it’s too late.