The life of an accountant is fraught with danger. Just ask my dad. We saw the movie together over the weekend, and he was happy to finally see his profession so accurately represented onscreen. Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff. At first glance, he appears to be a perfectly normal small-town accountant, whose clients consist mainly of the businesses in the same strip mall as his small accounting firm, as well as local farmers.
But secretly, Mr. Wolff crunches the numbers for dangerous criminal organizations. He is also autistic. When he was a child, his father, a military officer, decided not to enroll his son at a specialized care facility, instead believing that Christian should learn to adapt to the world, instead of the other way around. As a result, Christian’s father trained him and his brother in martial arts and marksmanship, and as an adult Christian is highly skilled in both areas.
All of Christian’s skills come in handy when he is hired to uncook the books for Lamar Blackburn, the CEO of a successful robotics corporation. One of Blackburn’s accountants, Dana Cummings, played by the infinitely likable Anna Kendrick, has discovered suspicious financial dealings, and Christian is able to discover that tens of millions of dollars have been embezzled from the company.
Needless to say, there is more going on here than meets the eye. There’s a mysterious assassin on the loose, who is played by Jon Bernthal of The Walking Dead fame, as well as playing the Punisher on the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil. I like Bernthal as an actor, he’s charming and likable while still being kind of a bastard.
The Accountant is a difficult movie to classify. You’ll probably find it in the action/adventure category when the Blu-Ray is released, but it’s hard to assign it one particular genre. I feel like calling it an action movie is kind of misleading, it’s more like a drama interspersed with hard-hitting action scenes. And the movie does have some very good action scenes. Affleck is a big man, and he uses his physicality quite effectively when it becomes time for Christian to get his hands dirty. He’s very believable as a kicker of asses, and the movie’s fight scenes are brutal and well-staged.
The Accountant is what I like to call a Loud Gun Movie. It’s easy to forget that guns in real life are LOUD, and this movie portrays them as such. The echoing roar of Christian’s .50-caliber rifle would be deafening in real life, and it’s almost deafening watching the movie. The machine guns and handguns used elsewhere in the film are similarly noisy, which gives the action scenes a lot of weight.
Affleck’s performance in the movie is to be commended. A lot of movies that feature characters with mental conditions seem to overdo it, but this one doesn’t. Affleck subtly underplays Christian’s quirks, giving him a couple of recognizable tics without rubbing his character’s condition in the audience’s face. And the subtlety of his performance is emblematic of the movie as a whole. It’s subtle. There are at least two major plot twists near the end of the film, but the film doesn’t make a big deal out of them. It presents them and then lets the audience make the connections for themselves. The Accountant is a movie that respects its audience, which is something I always appreciate.
The character of Christian Wolff is also quite fascinating. He lives in a house that’s pretty much an empty shell, and his true home is a trailer that he keeps hidden in a storage unit. His trailer houses all kinds of goodies, from original Renoir and Pollock paintings to gold bars, lots of cash in euros and dollars, and at least one mint condition copy of the very first Superman comic, as well as his arsenal of weaponry. The contents of Christian’s trailer are worth millions and provide him with an escape, a place that he truly feels at home, which is something everyone can relate to.
The movie was directed very well by Gavin O’Connor. I had only seen one of O’Connor’s films before this one. Unfortunately, it was a movie I absolutely hated. It was a movie called Pride and Glory, which I hated so much I included it on one of my lists of really bad movies. The Accountant is substantially better. It received mixed critical reviews but has a high user rating on the Internet Movie Database, which seems to indicate that it resonated more strongly with audiences than it did with critics. I’m not sure why that would be, but my dad and I both liked the film a lot.
It has a strong lead performance from Ben Affleck and benefits from solid work from the supporting cast of J.K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal and John Lithgow. It has a plot that keeps you guessing, with twists that are surprising but not so far out of left field that they don’t make any sense. It has well-executed, hard-hitting action sequences, and it treats its audience with respect. What’s not to like?