Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant stars Ben Affleck in the title role as a numbers cruncher whose life long battle with autism has kept him from forming bonds with many people, including his own family. As a child, his father treated him and his brother with an iron fist. His main concern was to train his boys to deal with the horrors of the real world by sticking them into fights and watching how they deal with the fight. As a result, Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a solitary man, brilliant, tough, strong but socially awkward. As I said, he connects with virtually nobody. His business is accounting for some of the worst criminal organizations in the world, laundering their money and taking out the occasional hit. He can fight, shoot and do it all. That is until two United States Treasury agents, Ray King (J. K. Simmons) and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) pick up on his trail and start to close in on him.
There has been some criticism for The Accountant as a bit plodding, choppy and slow to get started. This film had me from the first five minutes. The Accountant is a fascinating and intriguing thriller; smartly written and intelligent. O’Connor and scriptwriter Bill Dubuque have crafted a thoughtful and carefully crafted film that really digs into these characters and presents them as people, not cogs in an assembly line story. Ben Affleck continues to impress me with his dynamic range as Christian Wolff. His autism is not looked at as a hindrance or something freakish. He is meticulous and orderly but clearly has a heart and compassion. He deals with horrible people but he, himself, is not horrible. He can be distant and cold but not overly so and Affleck has the right balance to his character.
Anna Kendrick is Dana Cummings, a fellow accountant who is not sure what she thinks about him, but understands just how far to push him. She is lonely, too; a bit of a nerd, but very sweet. I would have liked to have seen her character get some more screen time, but this is a minor quibble. It’s just her character was interesting and I wanted to learn more about her. The rest of the cast is terrific with Simmons and Robinson both adding some weight to the story as the two Treasury agents on Wolff’s trail. Each of them have their own history which was refreshingly interesting. John Lithgow, Jeffery Tambor and Jon Bernthal all are excellent as well, providing some extra layers to the story. The great thing about this film is that all of the characters are needed for the story to work and they are all fleshed out to a great detail. Mark Isham returns to film scoring providing his wonderful balance of orchestra and electronics. He had taken some time out from scoring and now has two films in theaters right now with his scores the other film being Mechanic: Resurrection. Both scores are worth searching for on Amazon.
The action of The Accountant is not simply action for action’s sake. It grows out of the story and the characters so when it happens, you believe that it is legitimately part of the story. Some have said this film is Ben Affleck’s Jason Bourne. It has more of a John Wick feel that a Jason Bourne feel, to me. Regardless, the action is well choreographed and hard hitting. Wolff shows he is good with hand to hand combat but equally deadly with firearms and the brains to back it up. Jon Bernthal has an important role as a competing hit man and proves to be a worthy adversary to Wolff. The two have some clever cat and mouse altercations that crackle with suspense. There is one aspect of the story that I figured out long before the final reveal in the climax, but other than that I really dug The Accountant. It is a solid and complex thriller that features interesting characters, a well constructed story and an Oscar worthy performance by Ben Affleck. Who said accountants were dull?
The Accountant – **** 1/2 out of 5
The Accountant – Rated R for language, graphic violence, gore and adult situations
The Accountant – Run Time is 128 minutes
The Accountant is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.