Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jon Bernthal, John Lithgow, and Jeffrey Tambor
Synopsis: As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
It seems like Hollywood likes giving older actors today their own action thrillers. Liam Neeson had his with Taken, and that seemed to start the trend, and while some of them work, The Accountant is its own animal, and while a lot of the film works, it falls into some, unexpected, pitfalls that makes the film not completely what you were expecting.
The Accountant follows Christian Wolff (Affleck), a small-town CPA with a form of high-functioning autism that makes him, you can say, socially awkward around others. He helps people with their taxes during the day, but at night, he works with shady organizations, gangsters and the cartels. His actions put him on the crosshairs of Treasury Department and Director Raymond King (Simmons), who brings in an analyst Marybeth Medina (Addai-Robinson) to try and find Wolff – who is “in” pictures they have, but don’t show his face.
During all this, Wolff takes on a new client, a robotics firm, by Lamar Black (Lithgow), who says there is missing money that was found by an accountant in Dana Cummings (Kendrick). Wolff, being excellent in his job, finds out what’s wrong but subsequently puts Dana in danger and is forced to solve the mystery and going up against killers, all lead by a mysterious Braxton (Bernthal).
The Accountant rests of the shoulders of Ben Affleck, and has been shown in the past he is up to the challenge. When the film focuses on Wolff, and the flashbacks as a child with his father played by Robert C. Treveiler, is when the film works. Seeing what Christian goes through as a child and the way his father dealt with his condition flows nicely throughout the film. The other thing that works in the film is when we actually see Christian doing his day job. It surprising to see an action thriller actually make math and accounting look fun, and seeing Christian, and even Dana at one point, being enthusiastic after what he discovers on the first day was fun to watch.
The film doesn’t go fully into Christian’s autism, and it may not be a full representation of it, but Affleck does bring a likeability and even sympathy to the character. The autism isn’t a disadvantage for him, and even when he’s killing people, it isn’t a way for him to cope – he has his own way of doing so – he does it because it’s part of his job. It a hard trait to pull that off, but Affleck does it well.
The rest of the cast handles themselves well. You would think Anna Kendrick would stick out, and while she does a bit, she hangs in there with Affleck, although her role isn’t as big as you would think. J.K. Simmons is reliable as always, and shares most to all of his screen time with Cynthia Addai-Robinson’s Medina, who does a pretty good job of hunting down Wolff on her own. Jon Bernthal, also always reliable as ever, seems to have fun playing a ruthless killer, although it would have been nice to see more of him in the film. Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow have small roles in the film, with Tambor getting really a glorified cameo.
While the film works on a lot of levels, The Accountant does loses some steam when it takes on a massive exposition dump right before the third act. I won’t go into details about what the scene is about since it delves in spoiler territory, but the scene only works on some levels, and felt like shoehorned in scene that they put in so they make this a potential franchise. I’m not complaining too much, because it would be cool to see Affleck return as this character and go back to this world, but the scene itself – again, only working on some levels – felt a bit shoehorned.
Finally, there are a couple of unexpected revolutions in the film, and maybe some will see coming before they are revealed, or at least you’ll ask the question. The reveal does just kind of happening, and it never fully resolves itself, but again, if they go with a sequel it should be interesting to see how it goes.
All in all, The Accountant is a worthwhile action thriller that sees Affleck tackling something a little different, and doing a great job at it. The film doesn’t seem like it has a lot going on, and it takes a while for things to really pick up, but when it finally does, The Accountant is a solid action thriller that could lend itself to a sequel.
4 out of 5