Director: Gavin O'Connor
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jean Smart, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow
Release Date: October 14th, 2016
The Accountant is a film that tries to do more than it should. The premise is simple. Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff, an autistic accountant with a military background. His father was in the Army so Christian was trained to be a warrior. His traditional day job masks the fact that he also has worked in bookkeeping for known terrorists and has lived to talk about it.
No one messes with Christian for good reason.
Lamar Black (John Lithgow), the founder of a major robotics company that helps engineer mechanical arms, is Christian’s latest client. Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), an eager analyst who works for Black, finds an accounting error so Christian comes in to help. The raw numbers are the least of their problems.
The combination of Affleck and Kendrick as the two leading actors here is a strong one and becomes a key ingredient as someone attempts to assassinate their characters. The duo are pitted together as they struggle to find out the truth about the accounting issue and stop a team of hit men, led by the psychotic Brax (Jon Bernthal).
The screenplay by Bill Dubuque starts out strong with flashbacks to Christian’s youth showing the difficulty his parents had in raising him. He was unique and anxious, leading his mother to run away from the entire family. In fact, one of the story’s most unique elements is in its depiction of the autistic Christian as an accomplished adult who still struggles to connect with people and becomes overtly anxious when he can’t finish a project. He showcases the same emotions he displayed as a child but in a more subtle and subdued way.
Where the feature falters though is in its overall story, which tries to capture more elements than it should. In addition to the story about Christian and Dana’s relationship and their investigation into the robotics company, there’s also a side story about the Treasury Department hunting down Christian (because of his ties to known criminals). That story features J.K. Simmons as a Treasury official and Cynthia Addai-Robinson as a Treasury employee who tries to locate Christian.
That element feels like a exposition-heavy aspect of the story and never really feels necessary. In a few flashbacks, a few connections are made between Christian and the Treasury officials but overall, the stories don’t connect in a clear and cohesive fashion.
Added to that is the fact that Kendrick’s character seemingly disappears for much of the final quarter of the film. It seems odd to build a connection between Christian and Dana only to put that connection on the back burner for the feature’s conclusion when a last-minute surprise doesn’t feel that surprising at all.
Director Gavin O’Connor seemingly tries too hard in including so many different elements into the story (including that predictable twist). In the end, there are elements of The Accountant that work including the premise at its heart. But these elements never come together in a way that would make this movie truly memorable or impactful. The concept seemingly has a lot more to offer than this forgettable action drama.
Review by: John Hanlon