When I first saw the preview for “The Accountant,” I thought to myself, “Finally, a film that isn’t a sequel, a reboot or a remake.” Unfortunately, the film’s originality won’t be enough to earn it any nods during award season. “The Accountant” fell slightly short of my expectations.
The film stars Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff, an autistic accountant whose affinity for numbers and guns makes him the mob’s most prized confidant. While using his modest accounting office as a front, Wolff works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous people in exchange for historical artifacts, famous masterpieces and, of course, large sums of money.
In order to ward off suspicions by the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division and its head, Ray King (J.K. Simmons), Wolff begins working for Living Robotics, a state-of-the-art robotics company, to investigate million-dollar discrepancies discovered by accounting clerk Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick). As Wolff gets closer to uncovering the truth behind Living Robotics, his boundaries crumble and the body count rises with an unexpected suspect at the center of it all.
Ben Affleck, best known for his roles in “Good Will Hunting” and “Argo,” has the experience to indicate that his performance in “The Accountant” would be compelling and distinctive. Unfortunately, his “nice guy with a dark past” acting experience is not extensive enough to do the character of Christian Wolff justice; Affleck gives an overall lackluster performance. Although the film portrays an autistic man as the protagonist, as films rarely do, Affleck’s portrayal is robotically cool and fails to create a stand-out character.
Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect,” “Into the Woods”) does a fantastic job in her role as Dana Cummings, a whip-smart accounting clerk who unintentionally teams up with Wolff following the revelations regarding Living Robotics. Her character’s attempts to bond with Wolff through awkward conversation and endearing humor liven up an otherwise dull cast.
The strongest points of the film are its ability to grip viewers and keep them guessing until the very end. Director Gavin O’Connor manages to cram plenty of twists and “aha” moments into the 128-minute film. For most movies, too many twists can be overkill and leave audiences confused. However, the plot twists and revelations that “The Accountant” includes are subtle yet unexpected, and O’Connor manages to end the film in a clear and satisfying manner.
The plot structure of “The Accountant” also helped the film achieve a sense of completion while imperceptibly answering viewers’ questions. The linear storytelling offered clarity in what otherwise could have been a puzzling concept. Although the film includes flashbacks to Wolff ’s childhood, these are well-constructed and provide critical insight into Wolff ’s past. The flashbacks are the only aspect of the film that humanize Wolff, allowing viewers to sympathize with the misunderstood man rather than condemn and despise him as the cold-blooded killer that the Treasury Department believes him to be.
If you’re looking for a gory, action-packed thriller, “The Accountant” will only satisfy half of your expectations. The action scenes are intense and timely, but they lack the blood and guts one would expect from a film focused on hitmen. This exclusionwaslikelyintendedtoavoid detracting from the true story — the conspiracy surrounding Living Robotics — but the complete lack of gore throughout the film was disappointing. A tasteful use of bloodshed could have given this film the spice it needed and created the menacing antagonists it lacked.
The concept of “The Accountant” is imaginative, and the central focus on mental illness in the story provides a breath of fresh air, but this film would have been significantly more enthralling if a more convincing protagonist had been cast.