Like a Rubik’s cube, the storyline of “The Accountant” twists, rotates and puzzles. To the trained eye, or in this instance, moviegoer, the key to the riddle is actually not so hard to find. In fact, the film might leave some thriller pundits unhappy, but for the common cinephile, the movie successfully entertains.
Multiple Oscar winner Ben Affleck leads as the accountant who is at once a genius and socially inept. This is due to his autism. As for how far along the spectrum he is, perhaps experts can say, but Affleck’s character seems to have borderline severe autism.
Flashbacks throughout the story reveal that his mother left him, his younger brother and father (played by “House of Card’s” Robert C. Treveilier) after not being able to handle his outbursts. His father, who to his credit, never leaves him or treats him differently. Throughout his childhood are various lessons on how to survive including various forms of Asian combat, weapons training, and the firm instilment of family loyalty.
For a number of years, the accountant has done the books for a variety of thugs, kingpins, and terrorists. This prompts him to live a simple but mobile lifestyle where he changes names regularly. At this point in his life, he goes by Christian Wolff. Always he chooses the name of a famous historical mathematician.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has been trying to track him down. J.K. Simmons plays the soon to be retiring Ray King, who at first glance appears to want to bring Wolff to justice. He recruits through blackmail analyst Marybeth Medina, played by the fantastic and wholly underutilized Cynthia Addai-Robinson.
A third plot is woven through with Anna Kendrick’s mousy character Dana Cummings. She is the accountant for a science and technology company where Wolff is brought into audit the books. Kendrick fits the role perfectly. Her earnestness is just natural. And she manages to bring some adorable comic relief. Oddly enough, she is the perfect counter to Affleck’s Wolff.
The gig at the company is supposed to be a “clean” job and throw the government off of Wolff’s trail. As it turns out, the company is hiding something big in its books and when Wolff gets ready to reveal it they summarily give him the boot. His autism won’t let him give the project up. “I have to finish!” He says.
In hindsight, the direction of the film is clear but when you watch it for the first time it keeps you guessing. Director Gavin O’Connor manages to keep you on your toes and just when you think you have the plot figured out, he turns you about. The feel of this film is very much like a “Mission: Impossible” flick but instead of the good guys taking out the bad, it’s one bad guy taking out another bad guy.
What “The Accountant” lacks is any real character depth, aside from Wolff. So much time is spent showing you who he was and how he became that way that there wasn’t time for the other characters. This left Simmons, Kendrick and Addai-Robinson with flat one-dimensional characters who just orbited Affleck. As previously mentioned, Addai-Robinson was fantastic. Despite having only short appearances, she imbued her character with such passion and actuality that you’re left with wanting to see more of her. In fact, a face-off with her character and Wolff would be an action movie truly worth seeing.
Nonetheless, the film accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, which is thrill you.
– Mesa resident Kaely Monahan is producer of Popcorn Fan Film Reviews.