Not since Midnight Run has the glamorous world of accounting been represented in such an honest and adventurous way. I mean, let’s be honest, the title ““ The Accountant ““ speaks for itself, right? Sarcasm aside, of course first impressions can be deceiving and what the film actually delivers is a curious and exciting action-thriller, which plays out as though Rain Man were Jack Reacher.
Ben Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, an autistic mathematical genius who uses his small- town accounting business to cover his lucrative dealings with criminal organisations. When he uncovers the murky finances of a legitimate client, he finds himself thrust into a deadly game of deception and corruption. Caught in the firing line of assassins, Wolff falls back upon hidden skills to protect a young whistleblower (Anne Kendrick) as he attempts to expose a fraud. What ensues is a fast-paced action-thriller full of intrigue and revelations, all while maintaining a break-neck pace to the end.
The Accountant has the hallmarks of a throwback film, baring a striking resemblance to the type of movies Luc Besson was producing in the late 90s. It carries a production design that relies on enclosed spaces and dim lighting, and boasts taut fight choreography and strong character dynamics. The film will likely seem familiar to viewers that recognise certain influences, such as the claustrophobic tone of The Replacement Killers or the chaotic nature of The Corruptor. Such parities come complimentary, of course, and when combined work to provide a cohesive and thoroughly engaging experience.
Ben Affleck delivers a solid performance that showcases his dramatic strengths as well as his aptitude for action. His portrayal of an autistic character feels sincere and well learned, and he demonstrates various nuances that suggest that the filmmakers have made a conscious effort to portray the mental condition in a positive light. The supporting cast includes Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons and John Lithgow, who all offer weight to an otherwise conventional genre-film. With that said, most of them appear to be constricted and are never given the opportunity to flex the extent of their talents. Lithgow falls into “foolish old man” mode, which he’s been stuck in for a decade now, and Simmons’ Treasury Agent is underdeveloped and clichÃ©d. Thankfully, Kendrick bolsters the team with her charm and effortless likability.
The Accountant is not without other faults. One particularly obvious and clunky piece of exposition midway through the film threatens to derail the entire story. An unnecessary and bloated narration introduces a silly back-story with the assumption that the audience needs all of the gaps filled. This commentary is offensive to common sense and underestimates the viewer’s ability to comprehend motive and reason. This is a story that benefits from intrigue, and this moment of such in-depth character-exploration lessens the overall impact. Were it not for the film’s clever and fulfilling final act, this over-written exposition might have ruined everything.
Regardless of this major qualm, The Accountant delivers when and where it needs. Its themes and tropes are well positioned and, like the metaphorical jigsaw puzzle that reappears throughout the film, all of the pieces fall together nicely. Perhaps it was my total ignorance upon entering the film, but I fell for most of the surprises ““ hook, line and sinker!
THE REEL SCORE: 7/10