Director: Gavin O’Conner
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, and John Lithgow
The action film lately has seen its fair share of tough guys. A transporter who can throw fists and kicks with the best of them, another named Wick who thought he hid a deadly past under a slab of concrete, and a tough guy who has “a particular set of skills” that are useful when he needs them. Who would have thought that an accountant would share the same qualities with every character mentioned above.
It makes sense that an accountant would be a good action hero. Aside from the pocket protector and wingtips, an accountant has to be meticulously organized, prepared for unexpected variables, and capable of assessing large quantities of information at rapid speeds. Add some hand-to-hand combat skills and weapons training and you’d have a fairly deadly weapon ready for action.
The premise isn’t quite so simple in director Gavin O’Conner’s film “The Accountant”. Ben Affleck plays a man named Christian Wolff who has an impressive aptitude with numbers but not so much with human connections. Christian is autistic; his military father took a non-professional approach of treatment, exposing Christian to loud noises, flashing lights, but also military combat training. Aside from being a brilliant everyday accountant, Christian also organizes the books for some of the most dangerous men, terrorists, and mobsters in the world. How does Christian stay safe? His unique brain and training from his father has turned him into a seemingly unstoppable assassin.
First, Ben Affleck is really good here. The character of Christian is a man who struggles with people, understanding different emotions and subtle personality traits is more difficult for him than going through years of extensive, complicated accounts with millions of numbers. Mr. Affleck holds together the loose ends that unfortunately compose the narrative. Anna Kendrick offers some good chemistry with Mr. Affleck but also some humor that the two utilize often. J.K. Simmons plays a retiring treasury agent with nothing but charm, a man with secrets and conflicts of his own but also an understanding of the world he operates in. Mr. Simmons always brings an interesting quality, even to the most unoriginal characters like this one.
Aside from Mr. Affleck’s detailed, deft performance that provides the messy narrative with some interesting moments, there are unfortunately movements in the script that make zero sense. Most of the turns and reveals in this thriller are fairly easily discerned. Still, there are some good scenes found throughout the clutter. Specifically the relationships established by Christian, one with an analyst (Anna Kendrick) of a company investigating the loss of millions that puts Christian in a difficult position and another with a family member seen mostly in flashbacks. It's these interesting character dynamics that keep the film engaging.
“The Accountant” is a no-nonsense, sometimes dull, action thriller with a great performance from Ben Affleck. Surprisingly it still has a very watchable and pleasant quality, in the same way that mindless action films can occupy space without any other requirement than executing a by-the-numbers script with a good character. The cast delivers and that may be enough for some to overlook the missteps within the story.
3.50 out of 5.00