Every once in a while you go on a ride with a story that is ultimately very flawed but because you are having so much fun with it all you can easily forgive something’s that you may not overlook in other situations. The Accountant is that kind of movie, following a John Grishamesque type of narrative it puts in some solid work with good action, some genuine uncomfortable tension and even some goofy tension breaking moments that play very well into the design of the entire story.
Enter Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) a savant with a skill for math who gets more satisfaction out of his interactions with numbers then he does with people. With a small-town CPA office as his cover, he offers his accounting services to some of the most dangerous people in the world and lives to tell about it thanks to his other unique set of skills. He’s had a good run, but the Treasury Department is starting to close in on him and in hopes of laying low, Christian takes on a regular client; a state of the art robotics company where a young accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy, one that could mean millions for the company. However as Christian begins to uncook the books and discover the truth, the body count rises as his corporate clients prove to be just as and if not more dangerous than his criminal ones.
When it hits, The Accountant hums on all cylinders as it gives us a nuanced performance from Affleck with some solid action inside a narrative that admittedly gets a little goofy at times, but it is never supposed to be taken all that seriously anyway as it ultimately plays like a piece of hard boiled 21st century pulp fiction.
Gavin O’Connor is a skillful enough director that he knows how to get us from point A to point B in a fairly effortless fashion and while he leans on some stylistic moments a little more then he should as he visually gets a little too enamoured with the look of the film, you just have to go with it all because it is meant as more of a morality fable then a straight up action thriller. The script from writer Bill Dubuque gets a little too up its own ass at times as it tries to be a little more clever than it actually should while some of the moments of dialogue and character development just flat out clunk like a lead balloon. But that being said the carefully placed flashbacks about Christian’s life before we meet him really gives us the core of what the movie is about. Thankfully it all comes together thanks to a leading performance that is perfectly in tune with the material.
As a functioning autistic man, Ben Affleck doesn’t pour on too much of any kind of affectations and gives us a glimpse at the rigid self control that he has to inflect upon himself to just have a chance to cope with the outside world. He knows when to play it desperate and broken and he knows when to go for a joke to relieve the tension in the narrative. All the moments where we laugh uncomfortably as an audience are by design and even though they don’t always have the exact effect that they maybe should it plays again into a narrative where we just have to go along for the ride. Sadly there really isn’t anyone else in this film that gets a moment to shine, Anna Kendrick works for what she is given as the sympathetic kindred spirit to Christian’s cold hard life while the likes of John Lithgow, Jon Bernthal & J.K. Simmons kind of get wasted on it all.
Affleck easily carries the movie but it ultimately would have been nice if The Accountant had a little more depth to it even though it plays fine as a perfectly corpulent and accessible piece of entertainment.