“The Accountant” Movie Review


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     You have to appreciate what director Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior”) and screenwriter Bill Dubuque (“The Judge”) have done with their latest film “The Accountant”, a crime thriller starring Ben Affleck as a math whiz more than capable of settling his own scores.  At face value, you look at a film like this and immediately conjure up images of similar stories, but O’Connor seems more than aware of this and ensures the characters have plenty going on to set themselves apart.  Aside from Affleck, who seems to be having great fun here, the film is supported by a game cast that includes Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, John Lithgow, and a nice cross over to the film world by television actress Cynthia Addai-Robinson.  

     Filmmakers often skip the origin stories of their tough guy leading men, but here we get a number of influential flashbacks on Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck), a mild mannered and mostly silent accountant who lives a simple and well organized life between his strip mall CPA office and his immaculate home.  Without a back story, as presented, one would assume Christian has a few screws loose given his utter lack of social skills, but then we’re taken back to his childhood where he grew up as the son of a well traveled Army Officer and a mother who seems to be barely holding on to their current situation.  That’s because Christian suffers from a series of behavioral disorders that accentuate his one of kind intelligence, but also come across as difficult for the parents to deal with as he frequently has violent tantrums when his way of thinking is somehow interrupted.

     Ray King (J.K. Simmons) is a Treasury Agent who has been on the trail for years looking for a mysterious accountant who specializes in laundering money for the mob’s most feared families, as well as other major criminal enterprises like the Mexican drug cartel.  Through video surveillance of a particular incident in the past, as well as his own experience through the investigation, the accountant is also seen as a hitman of sorts, capable of dispatching several men at a time in order to achieve the desired result of what he has been hired to do.  King brings in an analyst, Marybeth (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), to help sift through the evidence and determine the identity of the elusive would be hitman, and in doing so looks to wipe away a forgettable blemish on her record that King is more than aware of.

     Always looking to ensure his business dealings are kept under wraps and remain legit to the government, Christian takes a job with a prosthetic tech company whose founder, Lamar Black (John Lithgow), believes a significant sum of money has come up missing over a period of several years and suspects it to be an inside job.  Assisting Christian is a lower level employee at the company named Dana (Anna Kendrick), who seems to share a lot of the high end math aptitude possessed by Christian and is immediately and obviously in awe of his quick work through thousands of files and the firm conclusions he comes to.  

     When Christian determines the source of the missing funds, he is abruptly let go by Lamar, but then key figures within the company suddenly start to turn up dead and soon both Christian and Dana find themselves on the same list.  This is where one may draw up immediate comparisons to Affleck’s buddy Matt Damon and his “Bourne” series, as the action sequences tend to be up close hand to hand combat with a little “John Wick” close quarters gun play mixed in for good measure.  Of course the joke here is each and every one of the attackers go in thinking Christian is merely a financial guru and not the massively skilled martial arts and gun play expert he turns out to be.  O’Connor takes full advantage of that fact with a number of timely and comedic reactions from these would be killers mid fight.  Even Kendrick’s Dana spends a lot of time spouting off lines as if she’s a re-creation of Jamie Lee Curtis’ Helen Tasker watching her husband Harry dispatch one bad guy after another in utter disbelief for the first time.  Making it even funnier, is Affleck’s emotionless delivery that has him looking and sounding more like “The Terminator” than a modern day hitman.  I seriously half expected him to tell Dana “Come with me if you want to live.’ at some point.

     While “The Accountant” may be a tad bit too long, overall the story elements O’Connor chooses to focus on need to be told in order for the plot to make sense.  The first hour jumps all over the place from Christian and his exploits to King and his investigation, with John Bernthal’s nefarious hitman getting a juicy scene or two as a hired gun possessing the very same lethal personality his Shane character did on “The Walking Dead”.  O’Connor makes sense of it all in the second hour as the characters inevitably collide and the motivations behind a lot of what has happened becomes significantly more clear.  This isn't by any means an original feeling story, but the filmmakers here score big with several multilayered characters who are worth knowing more about as the film moves into its third act.  And those characterizations, particularly Affleck’s Christian Wolff, ensure “The Accountant” remains not only watchable, but interesting and thought provoking as well.  GRADE: B