“The Accountant” (2016)
Running Time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Gavin O’Connor
Featuring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons
Christian Wolff: [Dana is coming on to him] “I have trouble socializing with people… but I want to.”
This is the third film this year that Ben Affleck has appeared in, and it is the first one he is headlining by himself after “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016) and “Suicide Squad” (2016). This film is more grounded in reality but the quality of it is similar to his previous two outings, in that it attempts to be more than the sum of its parts – and ultimately fails to be anything meaningful – just another popcorn movie.
The plot of the film is based around Christian Wolff, a mental calculator, who works as a forensic accountant at ZZZ Accounting in Plainfield, Illinois, tracking insider financial deceptions for numerous criminal enterprises brokered to him by a Voice on his phone, from a restricted number. As a child, Christian had been diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism and offered an opportunity to live at Harbor Neuroscience Institute in New Hampshire. Although Christian had bonded with Justine, the mute daughter of the institute’s director, his father declined, believing that Christian should overcome the hardships inherent in his condition rather than expect the world to accommodate. The pressure of raising a special-needs child later drove Christian’s mother to leave him and his younger brother, Braxton, with their father, a decorated military officer, who arranged for them to receive extensive training in combat skills, including martial arts and sharpshooting.
Christian is being pursued by Raymond King, the director of FinCEN in the Treasury Department, who knows Christian by the alias “The Accountant”. King blackmails young data analyst Marybeth Medina into helping him identify and arrest the Accountant prior to his retirement, threatening to expose her undeclared criminal past if she refuses. King’s only leads are Christian’s numerous cover names.
This sets up the film and sets up a hell of a plot which meanders around jumping from one crazy thing to another with enough twists to make you think maybe they are making it up as they go along. This may sound like a serious criticism of the movie but actually in an odd way makes it more enjoyable. One of the more humorous scenes is reminiscent of the Martha scene from “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” – it would have been nice if it had have been intentional but it is still quite enjoyable.
This is truly an odd film I will be honest, but I found myself enjoying it for all the reasons I have not enjoyed Affleck’s other films this year – this one tries not to take itself too seriously and neither do the rest of the supporting characters, everyone is just chewing up the scenery – its great. The cast includes J.K. Simmons fresh off his Oscar winning role in “Whiplash” (2014) he really plays a great antagonist (sort of) and looks like he is having plenty of fun earning his paycheck. The only people I can see taking it seriously are Affleck and Anna Kendrick, as the kind of love interest and damsel in distress. It’s not a great role for Kendrick and she doesn’t have a lot to do – in fact she is absent from the last third of the film for no apparent reason, which is a little jarring and odd, but she does make an appearance at the end – just to reassure us she is ok and getting on with her life.
If you want to watch a decent thriller and action film then this film is for you – there is no real artistic merit to it but it is entertaining and fun. In a year or two you may even re-watch – but for now go back to directing Ben, and maybe you could have a break for actually being the star in films.
If you enjoyed this then try:
“Jack Reacher: Never go back” (2016)
“The Girl on the Train” (2016)