Directed by: Gavin O’Connor
Written by: Bill Dubuque
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson
Assassins taking care of business has been accomplished in many other films featuring several different demographics. Almost its own genre, these stories typically show someone troubled and trying to make their own way through this profession. The Accountant provides a similar approach, but the lead character has high-functioning autism, which defines much of what he can do during his day job and as an assassin. An interesting line to tow, but this film manages to be straightforward enough that it results in a good feature film.
Working as a forensic accountant, who can detect fraud, Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) gets tasked with looking into the books of Living Robotics. At this company, he must partner with an in-house accounting associate named Dana (Anna Kendrick). While he completes the audit, Christian finds that he may be under investigation for his involvement in murdering prominent gang members, as the investigators try to figure out his identity of being “The Accountant.”
A major facet of this film’s differentiation as an assassin story comes from Christian’s autism and how it has impacted his upbringing and his current career. As a child, his mother left him, his father, and brother after the diagnosis. Once his father sees Christian getting bullied for his disability, he ensures to train both Christian and his brother in how to defend themselves. While Christian learns from his father’s teachings, some of the methods border on abusive. Learning becomes very easy for Christian as he can solve any puzzle if just given the time, which has led to success in his forensic accounting career. He just needs all of the pieces and it will eventually come together for him. The way his autism condition is handled walks the line of almost making him a superhero, but The Accountant ensures that it does not completely define him. It makes Christian all the more interesting in how he interacts with others and how he reacts to his failures. Casting Ben Affleck as this character would not have been my first choice, but he conveys that struggles Christian endures very well. From his little rituals before completing an assignment, Affleck respectfully takes on this role and makes Christian a character who might be complicated because of his profession, but still fully human.
With Affleck leading the way, the film contains a good amount of supporting actors that contribute to the story with Anna Kendrick as Dana. She uses the naive charm she brings to many of her roles, as she gets pulled into this whole drama when she just wants to complete her job duties. John Lithgow as Lamar Blackburn, the CEO of Living Robotics, brings what Lithgow usually brings, a great performance. Along with them come some surprises sprinkled in there as friend and foe to Christian.
The plot of the story centers on Christian trying to find the leak that continues to hemorrhage money from Living Robotics while Ray King (J.K. Simmons) tries to uncover his identity. Jumping between the two storylines ensures that each one doesn’t become stale and the cuts occur at the right moments. Christian has a very meticulous nature, which has made him difficult to track. Whenever someone needs a kill done, they get in contact with “The Accountant” and then he gets the job done. Seeing King get closer and closer to finding out Christian holds that alias makes it quite the chase and makes the film all the better.
The Accountant, however, has one of the silliest reveals I have seen in a while towards the end. It almost stopped the film entirely on its tracks and it left me feeling like I was watching an SNL skit with what Christian encounters. I understand why it would occur narratively, but the way it came together on screen seemed absurd to the point where I had to laugh, especially with who makes an appearance.
Ultimately, The Accountant provides plenty of thrills, as it displays Christian being incredibly efficient in his fighting style and sometimes it’s great to see someone so good at their job. Similarly, as we enjoy watching athletes excel, watching Christian fully embody his alias “The Accountant” became very enjoyable. It’s very straightforward but provides some good entertainment with a type of action hero that typically does not receive the spotlight.