Starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons and Jon Bernthal, “The Accountant” is a well-constructed, extremely thrilling, character-driven film that is one of the better movies I’ve seen recently. Directed by Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior”, “Jane Got a Gun”), this film has an appealing story, just the right amount of action, drama, humor and various reveals or surprises in the plot. Affleck continues to expand his range and prove how solid of an actor he is as he delivers a top-notch performance that rivals his best work.
Affleck plays a very smart and peculiar character that uses his small accounting firm as a front to allow him to spend most of his time as a forensic accountant for dangerous criminal organizations. While using the alias, Christian Wolff, his handler suggests taking on a legitimate business opportunity with a major robotics company to avoid further suspicion from the Treasury Department, led by agent Ray King (Simmons). As Wolff digs deeper into the robotics company’s financials, he uncovers some irregularities, which lands him in the midst of a corporate conspiracy that results in violence and a number of dead bodies.
The film begins with Wolff as a child, and as his parents talk with a doctor, you quickly realize that he is different in some way. You eventually learn that he has an extremely high functioning form of autism; the first indication of this involves him screaming when he can’t find the last piece of a puzzle he is trying to complete. Most interesting is that the puzzle happens to be turned over, where he can only see the blank side instead of the picture that would help most people put it together. A benefit of his disability is that he is very smart and a whiz with numbers, which makes him the best accountant anyone’s ever seen.
The film jumps to present day, but continually flashes back to experiences from Wolff’s past. His father was in the army, so Wolff is moved around more than 30 times as a child. At one point, his father gets someone to teach him and his brother how to fight, which pays off later when Wolff is able to go after some of the violent criminals he encounters. As he becomes an adult, you see Wolff taking medication as well as doing some type of meditation that involves loud music and flashing lights, presumably as a form of self-control. Additionally, he only seems to keep a single plate and one pair of silverware for eating and is extremely organized.
There are a variety of known actors in the film aside from Affleck. Before becoming an accountant, Wolff spends time in jail, where he becomes close friends with Francis Silverberg (Jeffrey Tambor), a former criminal accountant, who teaches him everything he knows about the business. While consulting at the robotics company, run by Lamar Black (John Lithgow), Wolff works with Dana Cummings (Kendrick), who also gets caught up in the danger. The Treasury is never far behind, as Ray King puts a new agent on the case, a Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who is very driven. Bernthal plays a hit man of sorts that works for a dirty type of security firm, who also gets involved in the robotics deal.
The film can be rough, even brutal at times. Especially violent scenes include one where Wolff saves someone as well as numerous run-ins with criminals where Wolff becomes physical with his hands, knife or a gun. Because of his training, he is fairly unstoppable to just about everyone he comes across, which can be exciting to watch. There is a great deal of hand-to-hand combat, as well as gunfights that get pretty intense. Wolff’s motive for going after someone can be unclear at times, but as the film progresses, more and more is revealed that explain everything. Similarly, between all the flashbacks, different characters and everything going on, it’s recommended that you pay close attention. By the mid to end of the film, everything culminates and comes together quite well.
In addition to action and violence, there is a good amount of humor, which often involves the way Affleck’s character acts - awkward and antisocial when around other people, yet very confident and flawless when dealing with fighting or numbers. Kendrick has her typical awkward, talk-too-much personality, which has its share of laughs, and as expected, Simmons has his own traditional style as well. Bernthal, Tambor, and Lithgow have their moments too, whether it’s sarcasm driven or simply a humorous comeback or comment.
There are a few aspects of the plot that may be confusing and the extensive backstory may bother some viewers. You could even go as far as saying parts are predictable, but this didn’t take away from the overall experience for me. I’ve seen some mixed reviews, but I really enjoyed this film, in large part to Affleck’s performance as well as other characters and actors, the intriguing story told, and the action and humor. This film has been talked about for some time with quite a bit of hype, and thankfully the final result seems to be worth the wait and buildup.
4 out of 5 stars.
“The Accountant” is rated R for strong violence and language throughout. Running time is 2 hours and 8 minutes.
Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance writer, photographer/videographer, and filmmaker in Dallas, TX. You can find more of his work on Selig Film News. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and when he is not reviewing movies, Hayden works in film production. Don't like what he has to say? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt. Enjoy the movies!
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