Ben Affleck shines in The Accountant, portraying a different type of super anti-hero, in an entertaining film bogged down by a few too many plot points.
Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a mathematical genius and accountant to some of the world’s most dangerous people. After being contracted to audit a giant robotics company’s books to find some missing money, he’s forced to go on the offensive when it’s discovered the company is out to silence anyone privy to the missing money, including Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), to whom he’s taken a liking to. Meanwhile, the government is on his tail, trying to figure out his true identity and bring him to justice.
In The Accountant we get multiple storylines; Wolff’s character development and backstory; the government’s hunt to unravel the enigma dubbed ‘the accountant’; and the mystery behind the missing money at the robotics corporation he’s been hired to find. Director Gavin O’Connor does a commendable job at managing these different plot points, but they wear you down by the end of the film. A film such as this may have worked better as a pure genre-film, but rather the filmmakers have maybe tried to be a little too intelligent for their own good, ultimately at a disservice to the film’s enjoyment. It’s not that the story is too-hard to follow, but rather it felt a bit unnecessary to have all these branches extending from the core story, which is mostly centred on a character study of Affleck’s Christian Wolff.
Thankfully, the film has charming qualities, mostly due to its cast’s performances. Ben Affleck is on-point as a man bound by his daily routines and regular troubles with human interaction. Affleck’s stern portrayal of the character is very convincing as he enlists the audience to feel his his struggles along the way. Anna Kendrick is excellent as a young accountant embroiled in a scandal that puts her life at risk, and her efforts to forge a bond with the generally staunch Christian Wolff come across as natural. J.K. Simmons is great as always, as the government-head trying to chase down the titular accountant, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson puts in an impressive performance as the agent directly under him. Veteran actors Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow appear in small roles and their performances are fine, but it appears they’re only in the film for their name-power, as their characters are mostly under-explored. Finally, Jon Bernthal is also great in his role as a gun-for-hire, however it seems at this stage of his career he’s running the risk of being typecast as a rough-around-the-edges bad-boy type. That typecasting may land him plenty of roles, though it would be nice to see a role come his way that will take him out of his comfort zone.
Another thing the film has going for it is its action – and there’s plenty of it. It’s gritty and tense, and overall directed very well by Gavin O’Connor. It’s the type of action that’s sometimes incredible, but not to the point of being implausible, which is where the superhero element of the film stems, as not only is the title character exceptionally smart, he’s also exceptionally skilled in the art of kicking ass (similar in style to a well known caped crusader that Batfleck, aherm, Affleck has recently portrayed).
The Accountant is the type of film that will keep you engrossed throughout its duration, but may leave you feeling like it could have been more by the end of it. It’s a small film with big ambitions. It aims high with its complex story – but just falls short. Its big-name cast may be a bit too overpopulated, but luckily the performances are outstanding. It’s stylish, fun, serious and entertaining all at the same time, but it possibly needed to be a bit less of one thing and more of another. Putting its faults aside though, The Accountant still has plenty of entertainment value, and will likely end up being a crowd-pleaser.
Anna Kendrick based her character on her mother, a real accountant who went over the script and explained the math to her daughter.