The Accountant is basically Rain Man crossed with a Bourne film, taken to its extreme. Ben Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, a high-functioning autistic accountant extraordinaire who deals with some of the most dangerous people on the planet. Unfortunately, The Accountant is a very uneven film, with a solid cast and exciting action sequences, but a clumsy and uneven narrative.
The casting in The Accountant is quite superb. As always, J.K. Simmons is fantastic, despite his entire subplot being completely useless. Simmons plays a U.S. Treasury agent obsessed with hunting down the accountant, Christian Wolff. Anna Kendrick is adorable as a fellow offbeat, weirdo accountant (sans any super abilities though). The beloved Jeffrey Tambor has a great cameo as a mentor to Christian Wolff, and Jon Bernthal does a decent job of playing the efficient, lethal foil to Affleck’s accountant. Last, but not least, is Ben Affleck in the title role as ‘Super Asperger's,’ Christian Wolff, alluded to above as part Rain Man, part Jason Bourne. Some may see this movie’s exploitation of a neurological disorder as callous, but the subject, people, and treatment of neurological disorders are treated with the utmost tact in the film. If you’ve seen The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington, a film that also weaponizes a neurological disorder (O.C.D.), this film is similar in tone and style with which it presents title character.
I actually quite enjoyed Affleck's performance and the film’s characterization of Wolff. He’s cold and emotionless, with a face of stone most of the time. It should go without saying that he’s a superb accountant, but it's still enjoyable watching his face light up when he does complex corporate mathematics. But Wolff is not a robot, he has very clear likes and dislikes, and the film, especially when in his cargo trailer, is full of neat little snippets of the things he values. Wolff wasn’t just born the autism equivalent of Daredevil (remember that terrible movie also starring Affleck?), he was trained. The film also reveals Wolff’s origins through intercut flashbacks, how his father trained him to cope with the real world and also how he learned to be a black market forensic accountant from Tambor.
In spite of all of the film’s positives, it still stumbles mightily with regard to its story, its narrative, and its U.S. Treasury subplot, which is superfluous. Wolff is contracted to figure out if any money has been embezzled from an advanced Robotics company during the last 15 years. He discovers that over $60 million has been stolen and quickly gets embroiled in a conspiracy. Over the course of the movie Wolff tries to protect Kendrick and find the culprit. However, the conspiracy driving the plot just makes no sense when you stop and think about it. I won’t spoil anything but once the actual villain is revealed, his motivations are extremely poorly defined since he literally brought ruin upon himself. The film’s climax is a baffling mix of brutal violence and cheesy denouement. There’s one utterly tone breaking moment that’s odd at best and blatantly incongruous at worst. I did like the revelation of who Wolff’s handler was, but that’s about it. This film seems desperate to tie off any loose ends or questions that a viewer might have, but the answers it provides are mostly dumb, unfortunately.
As previously stated, the U.S. Treasury subplot featuring J.K. Simmons is completely unnecessary. Not only that, it's lackluster, out of place with the rest of the movie, and pretty silly as well. The reason for which J.K. Simmons reveals to obsess over Wolff is understandable. However, his actions in trying to find Wolff and secure a replacement for himself at the Department are not. (I’m nitpicking here, but in the film as well as the trailer, J.K. Simmons shows a fellow Treasury agent some pictures depicting our mysterious accountant from various obscured angles. Why are there are no shots of his face? Does the photographer have the worst timing in the world? What the hell, man! Just wait a couple more seconds or get a better camera.)
Anyway, the excuse The Accountant gives for its federal subplot is to establish Wolff’s moral code, so he isn’t just a ‘bad guy’ despite his many unethical, dangerous clients and the fact that he regularly transforms into a killing machine. But the film does go out of its way to demonstrate that Wolff isn’t a bad person and attempts to humanize him in other, “more important” ways. Additionally, the film doesn’t bother showing Wolff’s military career, nor how or why he was once imprisoned. Yet, the film finds it necessary to devote an entire subplot to show Wolff’s moral code.
The Accountant is a decent movie with a good cast, especially Affleck, who does a great job as “the Asperger’s avenger”. The film gets great mileage out of Affleck and his character’s super mathlete skills, as well as by demonstrating his proficiency cold-blooded violence. The film’s action sequences are also quite good, with loud, intense gunfights, and occasional forays into visceral hand-to-hand combat. Nevertheless, the film is ultimately undermined by its narrative which is coherent, yet not exactly cohesive. The Accountant’s ‘mystery’ is both convoluted and easily solvable, before being flat out revealed to the audience without any sort of pomp or circumstance. Worse yet, the film trips over itself while attempting to tie up its loose ends, resulting in an ending that is a stupid, contrived mess. A shorter, tighter film that dumped the U.S. Department of Treasury subplot, provided a clearer focus on its story, and worked to construct a better ending would have propelled The Accountant to greatness. Yes, I’m asking for a lot. Still, I actually enjoyed The Accountant. But can easily see why you might not.
TLDR: The Accountant is a Rain Man meets Jason Bourne action thriller with an uneven story and an annoying ending, supported in part by an excellent cast and exciting action. 3/5 Stars