Director: Gavin O’Connor
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, Jean Smart, Cynthia Addai-Robinson
Ben Affleck is no stranger to the action genre. He’s currently in between Batman projects so he still has the body to take anybody down that gets in his path. The Accountant is slightly different than some of his other genre films. When Christian Wolff was a kid, he showed signs attributed to autism. He was a genius with numbers and had OCD type behavior. It was a time when kids didn’t live in a sensory-friendly world. Even his dad refused to acknowledge what he was going through. Christian moved all around the country, as his dad was active in the military. His father taught him and his brother how to be aggressive and use survival skills as they grew up. Now as an adult, Christian, now played by Ben Affleck, uses his math skills as a CPA accountant. He has a small private office in strip mall. Of course that’s essentially all a cover up for a larger ring of illegal and secretive business deals he has around the world. Christian is hired by Lamar Black (Lithgow) who’s company, Living Robotics, has seen millions of dollars go missing over the past few years. He’s paired with Dana (Kendrick), an accounting clerk for the company, to go through the books and find out where the money’s gone. Throughout all of this, Christian finds himself the target of the Treasury Department who wants to bring him down for all of his illegal handlings. The catch is that they have no idea who he is as he frequently uses a variety of aliases during his business deals; he’s simply referred to as “The Accountant.”
There’s something simple and to the point regarding the film’s title, The Accountant. If you know nothing about the movie, it could sound like a very boring premise if numbers, stocks, and business deals aren’t in your bag of tricks. Now if you say “The Accountant” with some sort of dramatic flair, it sounds a bit more exciting. No offense to real accountants out there. This is the kind of movie that you need to go into looking to have some fun knowing it won’t necessarily take place in a very realistic society. There are some far-fetched concepts throughout that will either annoy you or not bother you depending on your approach to this movie. Would someone like Christian really have a real Jackson Pollack painting? Would he also own an original lightsaber prop used in Star Wars?
I also attribute part of this to having a variety of subplots that come into play. I’ve already mentioned the basic concept of Christian Wolff looking through the books of Living Robotics to determine what’s going on. You’ve got John Lithgow, Jean Smart, and Anna Kendrick involved there. Screenwriter Bill Dubuque (The Judge) also gives quite a bit of exposition involving Christian’s past with his brother and father leading to some explanation of how he became this trained assassin. Jeffrey Tambor pops up in some flashback sequences to Christian’s time in jail where he’s being mentored by Tambor. J.K. Simmons leads the Treasury Department investigation against him alongside Marybeth Medina (Addai-Robinson), a young colleague he has blackmailed into joining his team. Last, but not least, is Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street) who pops up as a mysterious hit man.
The marketing for the movie is centered on the concept of puzzles, which accurately makes sense as there are so many moving pieces and untrustworthy characters that you have to put together. The audience plays the role of investigator, which on screen is the Medina character, as we try to figure out who is plotting against whom, who is behind it all, and who you can trust. It comes with the standard twists and reveals in the final act. Some are fairly predictable if you’ve seen enough of these action thriller types.
Affleck’s character reminds me of a mix of Will Hunting (Matt Damon’s Good Will Hunting character) mixed with The Terminator and Jason Bourne (another Damon role). He’s an extremely smart genius who is a killing machine with a sharp eye. It makes logical sense then to have Affleck in the role. He can easily play into his strengths when handling the action sequences, but can also play into his charisma and vulnerable sides. He’s a man of few words which provides the film with a dry sense of humor. Don’t be afraid to laugh at some of the one-liners that Affleck has to deliver. Anna Kendrick is the plucky and smart sidekick type character who finds herself far in over her head now that she’s connected to Christian. The rest of the cast including Simmons, Lithgow, Tambor, and Bernthal all play characters we like to see from them. No one is really stretching too hard, but they all play along for the fun of it. I’m not giving anything away by stating that I wish Jean Smart was given more screen time. She had a brilliant run on the second season of FX’s Fargo, and I think she could have played along those lines here.
The Accountant has somewhat of an original premise as I’ve never quite seen an action film centered on an autistic assassin/accountant. I’ll be curious to see how the autism community reacts to the depiction of Affleck’s character. The rest of the story feels like a good, sometimes far-fetched, mystery novel from the likes of James Patterson, Lee Child, or Vince Flynn. It’s an entertaining shoot ‘em up style mystery. I personally enjoyed director Gavin O’Connor’s Warrior from 2011 better than this film, so check that out if you can’t make it to The Accountant.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? It’s a fun, popcorn action flick not to be taken too seriously
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS