The Accountant manages to present a familiar story with an unusual twist, and for the most part, it works very well.
The familiar story: A simple man with a dark past becomes reluctantly involved in a conspiracy that threatens his life. Also, there is a girl.
The unusual twist: The man, played by Ben Affleck, is a highly-functioning autistic math savant and practicing CPA who is also skilled with guns and hand-to-hand combat.
After a enigmatic opening scene, we are introduced to Affleck’s, Christian Wolff, as he helps a typical mid-western couple out of a bad financial situation with his encyclopedic knowledge of the Tax Code. Soon after, he is tasked with investigating some possible missing money at a private robotics company, where he meets the young and bubbly accountant who works at the company, played by Anna Kendrick. What Affleck and Kendrick discover in the ledgers of the robotics company will put them both at risk. At the same time, through very dubious means, a Treasury Department Analyst is assigned to find this mysterious man who appears to be responsible for laundering the money of the world’s most dangerous criminals. There are other characters with parts to play, all with mysterious pasts and secrets to keep, but Affleck and Kendrick are the ones that really shine.
In the hands of a lesser actor, Christian Wolff’s autistic CPA could have easily become Rain Man with a silenced pistol. However, Affleck does such an excellent job of portraying a complicated internal dialogue and bringing the right amount of subtle humor to the character that we find him endearing pretty quickly. In the few scenes he shares with Kendrick in the first act, you can feel his struggle to work against his nature and connect with her. Kendrick fills her typical role of cute and quirky like only she can. Even through Affleck’s mostly expressionless face, there is a genuine chemistry that comes through the screen.
The first two action pieces, which both involve Affleck interrupting assassination attempts, are brutal and thrilling to watch. Director Gavin O’Conner (Warrior) has shown his ability to capture fight scenes well, and those skills are on full display here.
When the film reaches its third act, it does suffer some issues. While the action leading up to it is excellent, the final set piece feels all too familiar, with one man facing many using his superior skills. Also, there are a lot of characters whose story lines need to be wrapped up, and while some of those pay off in surprisingly fun ways, others are easy to see coming.
All in all, I found that I enjoyed myself throughout most of The Accountant. Do I recommend you see it? You can account on it!