THE STORY – Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a mathematics savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Using a small-town CPA office as a cover, he makes his living as a freelance accountant for dangerous criminal organizations. With a Treasury agent (J.K. Simmons) hot on his heels, Christian takes on a state-of-the-art robotics company as a legitimate client. As Wolff gets closer to the truth about a discrepancy that involves millions of dollars, the body count starts to rise.
THE CAST – Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor & John Lithgow
THE TEAM – Gavin O’Connor (Director) & Bill Dubuque (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 128 Minutes
By Mike V.
Ben Affleck’s career has been an interesting one to watch. There was a period in time when his credibility had been totally destroyed thanks to frequent relationship drama and some truly awful movies (“Gigli,” “Jersey Girl”). Surprisingly, to critics and audiences alike, Affleck was able to course correct his sinking stardom by directing and starring in his own movies (“Argo” & “The Town”). One Academy Award later and Ben Affleck is back to being one of the most celebrated actors of our generation. “The Accountant,” a new film by Gavin O’Connor, was highly anticipated for this reason. And while it does succeed in being a showcase for Affleck’s talent, it does little else to make it a “must-see” on its own merits.
“The Accountant” centers around Christian Wolf (Ben Affleck), a man living with high functioning autism. Wolf makes his living helping various members of the mob or terrorist organizations launder money so that they can continue their illegal activities. Fearing that he has taken on too many high-risk clients, Wolf decides that he is going to take on one that is legitimate. From there the film is essentially broken into three parts: flashbacks showing how Christian Wolf became the man he is today, an investigation by a pair of treasury agents (J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson) into the motives of the mysterious accountant, and a tense set of actions scenes involving Wolf trying to protect a fellow accountant (Anna Kendrick) who has stuck her nose in the wrong place.
Ben Affleck is an actor that many believe does not have a wide range of acting ability. But from subtle hand gestures to explosive outbursts, Affleck is able to use every tool in his arsenal to create an extremely believable depiction of someone living with autism. Gavin O’Connor also does a great job of bringing this world to life. This is best demonstrated by the film’s action sequences which, while a little formulaic, are pleasing enough to watch. O’Connor is also able to get more depth and emotion out of his actors than one would typically find in movies of this type. Some credit should also be given to the sound department. No movie in recent memory has had guns sound as loud and authentic as the ones in this movie do.
In 2011, “The Accountant” was featured on the blacklist, a yearly released list of scripts that were liked throughout the industry, but ultimately not made into films. It is hard to imagine this script, written by Bill Dubuque, being one of the most liked of any year. There are plot holes galore in this film and some late third act twists that feel as though they were just shoved in there for shock value. It’s also unfortunate that actors as good as Kendrick and Simmons are given so little to do in this film. Jon Bernthal, as the movie’s main antagonist, also feels underserved. He’s given very little to do and has absolutely zero character development.
“The Accountant” is by no means a terrible movie, but it is a movie that is constantly at war with itself. This film is unsure if it should be an introspective look at what it’s like to deal with autism or a tense action thriller akin to Bourne or John Wick. It is unfortunately never able to marry these two disparate halves. By far, one of the best and most interesting aspects of this film is that Christian Wolf is essentially an autistic superhero. I could easily see this film resonating with younger viewers on the spectrum, as they finally have a hero that is relatable. While “The Accountant” never manages to hit the action thriller highs of its peers, it is ultimately saved by a wonderful performance from its leading actor.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Ben Affleck gives a solid lead performance as the Accountant
THE BAD – The film is not sure if it wants to be a straight up action film or serious comment on autism. There are far too many plot twists that stretch the boundaries of what is logical.