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The Accountant Movie Review

The Accountant (2016) movie poster The Accountant

Theatrical Release: October 14, 2016 / Running Time: 128 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Gavin O'Connor / Writer: Bill Dubuque

Cast: Ben Affleck (Christian Wolff), Anna Kendrick (Danna Cummings), J.K. Simmons (Ray King), Jon Bernthal (Braxton), Jeffrey Tambor (Francis Silverberg), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Marybeth Medina), John Lithgow (Lamar Blackburn), Jean Smart (Rita Blackburn), Andy Umberger (Ed Chilton), Alison Wright (Justine), Jason Davis (Neurologist), Rob Treveiler (Young Chris' Father), Mary Kraft (Young Chris' Mother), Seth Lee (Young Chris), Jake Presley (Little Brother), Izzy Fenech (Young Justine)

 

Ben Affleck played Batman in two movies this year. Now, he plays a different kind of superhero in The Accountant. At an early age,
Christian Wolff distinguishes himself as being different from other kids. He's got a high-functioning form of autism, which makes him gifted at math and puzzles, but also a bit socially awkward. He takes those gifts (and the social awkwardness) with him into adulthood, where he works as a strip mall accountant, advising clients on points like home office use tax breaks.

But this humorless, mild-mannered CPA has another life as someone hired to uncook the books of powerful corporations and crime syndicates. It's dangerous work, but one that Wolff is uniquely cut out for. He has a trailer that is filled with gold bars, stacks of money in various currencies, and priceless miscellany like a George Lucas-certified Star Wars lightsaber and a Jackson Pollock original.

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) does math on a board room's glass windows, to the amazement of his assistant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick).

When Wolff is hired by a robotics company to examine records revealing financial discrepancies, he dives into the task, aided by Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), a tireless assistant nearly as socially awkward as he is. She'll emerge as something of a love interest to our protagonist, but romance is not high on the film's priority list.

The occasional flashback fleshes out Christian's upbringing of nervous outbursts, a broken home, and some ninja training. All of it shaped him into the lethal killing machine he is, able to hit a target with a gun from a mile out.

Led by director Raymond King (J.K. Simmons) and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), a new hire with a criminal adolescence she tries to hide, the United States Treasury Department aims to track down Wolff. They're not the only ones. Also on his trail are a team of assassins, led by Braxton (Jon Bernthal), a level-headed killer with a special interest in the accountant.

Treasury Department financial crimes employees Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and Raymond King (J.K. Simmons) try to track down the elusive accountant. Hitman Braxton (Jon Bernthal) and billionaire CEO Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow) have their own less by-the-book pursuit of the accountant.

Since it opens in October, on the same weekend that Affleck's Oscar-winning Argo did in 2012, you expect The Accountant to be an intelligent fall movie,
the kind with good reviews, long legs, and a shot at some major awards. But I don't think that this will be getting any of that. Affleck, whose sad face in response to critics' Batman v Superman disdain went viral, is likely to have this become his third coolly-reviewed Warner film of 2016. Let's hope his fourth, Live by Night (which he also directed), recently planned to be eligible for Oscar contention, fares better.

DC fanboys cried "conspiracy" in reaction to the extensive hate that Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad elicited (and I still liked the latter quite a bit), but The Accountant is more ridiculous and underwhelming than either of those comic book movies. In his second screenplay, Bill Dubuque (The Judge) has the questionable idea to turn autism into some kind of superpower, like a radioactive spider's bite. We never for a second fear that the title character is in danger here. Outnumbered, outarmored, outweaponed...this guy is still going to save the girl and kill the bad guys without breaking a sweat or cracking a smile.

The Accountant is a serious drama, but it drew laughter repeatedly at my screening. Some of it was the nervous, cathartic kind, but I'd like to think some of it was a response to just how ridiculous these portrayals were. Affleck succeeds at draining all charisma and charm from his hero, turning him into an even broodier, more lonesome, uncaped crusader. He's like Jason Bourne but with the mind of Will Hunting, to reference two of the more iconic roles of Affleck's best friend.

Director Gavin O'Connor has flirted with respectability for quite a while now. His second film, Tumbleweeds (1999), drew a number of awards and an Oscar nomination for lead actress Janet McTeer. Miracle (2004) is still one of the more highly regarded true Disney sports dramas. And though it floundered at the box office (and wasn't so good), his brother vs. brother mixed martial arts drama Warrior sits in the middle of the IMDb's Top 250 list five years after release. But O'Connor isn't yet at the level of commanding respect and this film won't get him any closer. It may or may not fare okay commercially, but it won't leave people excited about what the director brings to the table. Frankly, The Accountant disappoints more than O'Connor's January flop Jane Got a Gun, which he took over after Lynne Ramsay dropped out, did.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Queen of Katwe Snowden Birth of a Nation Voyage of Time The Girl on the Train The Magnificent Seven
Directed by Gavin O'Connor: Jane Got a Gun Miracle | Written by Bill Dubuque: The Judge
Ben Affleck: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Argo Suicide Squad Gone Girl Glory Daze Extract The Company Men
Anna Kendrick: The Last Five Years The Hollars Into the Woods Happy Christmas Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
J.K. Simmons: The Meddler I Love You, Man Juno Dark Skies Labor Day Spider-Man Terminator Genisys
Jon Bernthal: The Wolf of Wall Street Sicario Fury Grudge Match The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season
John Lithgow: Interstellar Santa Claus: The Movie

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Reviewed October 14, 2016.



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