Within minutes of the movie’s opening, it’s pretty clear that director Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) and screenwriter Bill Dubuque are set on putting a new spin on the term “ultimate weapon.” Sure, we’ve seen the “ultimate weapon” (deemed hero, villain, or vigilante) use his brains and muscles to maneuver through any situation. But this time, it’s different. A skilled mathematician in the field of accounting who also moonlights as a trained killer, Ben Affleck’s (The Town) Christian Wolff also battles autism. A plot centered on Christian Wolff’s current path to uncovering the truth combined with bang-up action to piece together his dogged past adds up (yes, pun-intended) to a sharp action thriller that is indulging from start to finish.
Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a mathematics savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Using a small-town CPA office as a cover, he makes his living as a freelance accountant for dangerous criminal organizations. With a Treasury agent (J.K. Simmons) hot on his heels, Christian takes on a state-of-the-art robotics company as a legitimate client. As Wolff gets closer to the truth about a discrepancy that involves millions of dollars, the body count starts to rise.
Much like his engaging MMA movie Warrior, director Gavin O’Connor relies on family struggles to mold the story’s complicated main character. O’Connor makes sure the audience is aware of Wolff’s autism and how difficult it can be for him to cope with it from the early stages of his life to adulthood. Throughout the movie, we see Wolff battle his autism through a series of past events, which include family troubles and rigorous training from his father. And when Wolff as an adult is not calculating numbers or taking off an assailant’s head with a gun, he struggles with basic human interactions.
Laundering money and cooking the books for big-time criminal organisations, Wolff begins to uncover a disparity in the numbers at a technologically advanced company. While this sets the central plot in motion, we also see Treasury agent Ray King (J.K. Simmons) task Treasury analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) with discovering Wolff’s history. Connecting more threads than expected from Wolf’s past, most of the movie’s revelations that come to light work nicely. But on the flip side, a couple of revelations can be seen coming from a mile away, courtesy of some characters connected to Wolff that helped shaped him (particularly with one supporting character). While not exactly eye-rolling, these obvious revelations add little-to-no shock value to The Accountant’s fascinating story.
Ben Affleck gives a convincingly laudable performance as Christian Wolff. Showing off a demeanour that is both serene and brutish, Affleck nails the autistic nature of his character and mannerisms, which reveals another layer of his already cogent acting skills. Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) is satisfactory as Dana Cummings, an accountant at the company Affleck’s character investigates. As we try to relate to Wolff’s affection for those he cares about, Cummings becomes more comprehensible once she’s thrust into the middle of the story. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow) are adequate in understanding Wolff’s thought process and his motives for reaching a conclusion, though moreso Addai-Robinson is given more screen time. Jon Bernthal (Fury), John Lithgow (Dexter), and Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) are all more than acceptable in their respective roles. And even though their character’s screen times are barely more than cameos, each of them is given enough material to make their roles imperative to everything that takes place.
The action in The Accountant is just as enjoyable as its intriguing story. Taking notes from recent action thrillers (John Wick, Jack Reacher), The Accountant offers more than a handful of noteworthy action sequences. Arguably the best of these takes place on a local farm, where the end result will surely draw some laughs. And speaking of laughs, along with the exciting action, The Accountant offers plenty of unexpected comedy. With most of the laughs coming from Christian Wolff’s responses to other people, kudos to Warner Brothers for keeping the lighter material out of the promos, which results in a pleasant surprise for the audience.
The Accountant has the makings for a potential franchise (maybe?). Well-crafted with purpose and given the backstory of its main character, The Accountant offers something fresh and unique. You might come out of the movie remembering the action sequences the most, but it’s rare that you see a movie where you’re left trying to understand a main character’s illness and how he looks after himself in a world that appears sideways to him. And honestly, that’s a rarity in itself for the action thriller genre.