FILM REVIEW – THE ACCOUNTANT. With Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow. Written by Bill Dubuque. Directed by Gavin O’Connor. Rated R for strong violence and language throughout. 128 minutes.
Save your receipts. Ben Affleck is THE ACCOUNTANT, and you don’t want to get on his bad side.
Christian Wolff (Affleck) is one of the more unusual heroes of recent movies. He’s an accountant who handles ordinary clients with professional efficiency, but also handles the books for mobsters, terrorists, and drug dealers. He’s brought in when they need someone who can be trusted to be discreet and whose eye for detail means nothing will escape his attention.
The twist is that he’s somewhere on the autism scale. Others can dissect how accurate (or not) the character is, but as presented here he is someone whose life is done to precise and painstaking order. This affects everything from how his dinner is presented to following certain rituals to retain control of his life. On the other hand, he is so good with numbers that he can spot discrepencies that no one else would see.
Because of his shady connections, he comes to the attention of a government investigator (J. K. Simmons) who puts an agent (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) on Wolff’s trail. It turns out that Wolff is not only a whiz with numbers, he’s also a skilled assassin. How that came to be is slowly revealed as Wolff investigates the records of his latest client, scientist/businessman Lamar Black (John Lithgow).
There’s plenty of action and twists to the plot, although the big reveal may be telegraphed in advance. Indeed, for a movie with such a bland title, it is extremely violent. The climactic showdown has a high body count, and the film doesn’t try to prettify the shootings and knifings. Action fans will be pleased. The squeamish should probably look elsewhere.
Affleck’s character, though fascinating, does not get to offer a range of emotions since his character has had to learn how go through even the most basic social interactions. He seems to open up to Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) and the film teases us with the possibility of a romantic connection. The supporting players get the more dramatic moments, whether it’s Jeffrey Tambor as a prisoner who becomes a mentor to Wolff, to Simmons as a conflicted official, to Lithgow, whose character seems to be running on two tracks.
The two women–Kendrick and Addai-Robinson–are given enough complexity to make them interesting with Addai-Robinson having a sufficiently complicated backstory to support a film all on its own. Indeed, one suspects that the story of the accountant and Addai-Robinson’s investigator is only just beginning.
In the end, “The Accountant” seems to be setting us for not only a sequel but perhaps a series of movies. If such films can attract a cast like this and have a storyline strong enough to keep us interested, this just might be a series worth seeing.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His new novel, Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel, will be released in early 2017. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.