Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2017)

Love the large, hate the small. The American Way.

Thomas Sung was just like any other immigrant who navigated over the United States: He just wanted a fresh, bright start in the land of opportunity and promise, when that actually meant something. And well, he did just that. By the time he was 40, he opened Abacus, a small family-run bank, that helped out those who were in the same position as he was, within the Chinatown community. After many years of working and serving, all of a sudden, the bank is hit with an indictment on cases of fraud money-laundering, both of which seemed to have happened under shay circumstances. But the Sung family fights it and goes to trial and, as a result, find their names and reputations tarnished in the media. But why? One step closer to what’s going on and it turns out that despite these top-level banks causing the financial crisis of 2008, that we’re all still paying for, somehow, it was this small, family-run bank that had to face the music when the time came around for some jail time.

Interesting, right?

Always got to have the daughters in daddy’s corner.

Well, yes, it is. That’s because director Steve James has an eye for these kinds of stories and isn’t afraid to go the extra mile and distance to find out what’s really at the root of the source. Granted, Abacus is a relatively safe and conventional movie, considering the ambitions of grandeur James showed with Stevie and the Interrupters, but it’s still well worth the watch because of the story behind it and well, what this says about us, as a society, and of the U.S., a country.

Without saying too much, Abacus is probably a perfect movie to be released right about now. A film about how an immigrant came from, essentially, nothing, to make a life in America and live the dream, is what we need to hear more of. America, as we speak, is in a bit of a stand-still, where it’s apparent that immigrants who come to this country are becoming more and more ostracized and hated for, well, taking absolute advantage of what America has to offer.

Ah, the courtroom. A lovely place that almost EVERY. BANKER. SHOULD. HAVE. SEEN.

Meaning, yes, hopes and boundless dreams.

That used to be something lovely and proud to stand by, but sadly, it’s all changed. You have to give credit for James shining a light on this story, at this point in time, and never forgetting that at the center of this supposed-scandal, is just one man, trying to do right by his family. That’s all and nothing else to it.

Of course, the story goes deeper and this is where Abacus really works. It goes to the top and deals with all sorts of conspiracies that, despite being dense, are still easy to follow. As I said, this isn’t James’ best, or even his most challenging, but the man knows a good story when he sees one and isn’t afraid to shine his camera’s light where it deserves to be shined.

If only there were more of them out there just like him. Especially in office.


I’m done.

Consensus:¬†While not necessarily the game-changer we’re used to seeing from James by now, Abacus is still a compelling, interesting and heartfelt look at a small family, in a big country, doing whatever they can to survive. So yeah, it’s also relevant.

7.5 / 10

It’s okay. Just retire and get away. Us Americans are a pain. I know.

Photos Courtesy of: Abacus Movie

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