Let me start by saying this: I think you’ll enjoy The Accountant more if you go in completely blind. I heavily recommend that. Go watch it, you’ll enjoy that.
Of course, I understand that you’ve already clicked on this review, so maybe I’ll go into a little bit more depth than that. The Accountant is the movie Ben Affleck probably wishes he made around the time that Matt Damon was becoming Jason Bourne and Affleck was stuck doing Reindeer Games. It’s a smart, well written, character driven action movie that, with any luck, is the set up for a franchise that will stand the test of time.
The premise is pretty simple: Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff (although that’s an alias), a brilliant mathematician who is the accountant for some of the most dangerous criminals in the world. He is hired to come in when they find out someone is stealing from them to uncook their books and track down the theft. For the first time in years, two treasury department agents (J.K. Simmons and Arrow’s Cynthia Addai-Robinson) are very close to tracking him down, and so he takes a legitimate accounting job at a biotech firm run by John Lithgow. There, he strikes up a friendship with a young accountant played by Anna Kendrick, while tracking down the secret embezzlement scam at the firm’s core.
And that doesn’t sound like an action movie at all, does it? Trust me, it doesn’t feel like one. When the film first started, knowing nothing about it, I assumed this was a drama and a character study. It takes about half an hour for the first action sequence to even happen, maybe longer. But when it does, the build up has been absolutely worth it. The slowly rising tension of the first half of the film explodes into violence that, while it’s not the greatest choreography in the world, feels absolutely earned. There’s much more to Wolff than meets the eye, and as we slowly begin to understand his past, he is revealed as one of the coolest characters of modern action history.
I do have to say this, though. Wolff is portrayed as having high functioning autism. I thought the film treated that respectfully – it’s not treated as a super power, but nor is it treated as any kind of detriment. But I don’t have autism, and I would really like to hear from someone who does before I pronounce this movie successful. I know from the credits that they had five autism consultants on the film, and worked with at least two major institutes. But if you see it, let me know what you thought in the comments.
There’s also one scene near the end of the film where J.K. Simmons characters sits down on a couch and dumps about fifteen minutes of exposition on the viewer. It’s important exposition, but the story would have been served better if we were shown the information through characters’ actions, rather than just a fantastic actor telling us a story. It made me feel a little like I was watching a TV pilot rather than a movie. In many ways, that was the major overall theme of this film. While it was good, and had a satisfying contained story, a lot of it feels like set up for better stories that will be told with these characters in the future. I hope enough people see it that it gets that chance.
I also am really, really glad that they dodged the bullet of putting Anna Kendrick’s character and Ben Affleck’s character in any kind of romance. Beyond the fact that the whole “leading lady who is way too young for the leading man” thing is really tired, it would not have fit Affleck’s character at all. Although it’s never explicitly said, he may actually be playing the world’s first asexual action hero.
I walked into The Accountant expecting nothing. I came out having seen a great film that set up some really interesting characters that I hope we get to explore more in the sequel. The cast is excellent (I didn’t mention John Bernthal yet, but he is also great), the story is full of interesting twists and turns, and Ben Affleck turns in a much better performance than you might expect. I really do recommend you check this film out.