Ben Affleck did not direct this movie. I am wondering how it would have been different if he had, if at all. I’m not sure how to classify this movie, sort of an action-drama, I guess? There are bits of humor, but not enough to call it any kind of comedy.
The movie begins with us meeting two parents who are debating whether or not to leave their son with a therapist. He’s on the autism scale, and his parents seem to not be sure how to deal with it. Well, his mother doesn’t seem to know how to handle it. His father seems to have an idea, just making him strong, and training his younger brother to have his back. The mother leaves them, and the father continues to train both boys as he travels around with the military.
Later, we learn that the boy has grown into accountant Christian Wolff, who we meet as he is helping a couple file their taxes. In a bit of a parallel storyline, we also meet Ray King, director of financial crimes for the Treasury Department, and Marybeth Medina, an agent working under him. Ray is about to retire, but really wants to find out who the ‘accountant’ is first. All Ray has is the same guy appearing (barely) in photos from around the world with some of the world’s most dangerous arms dealers and criminals. He’s the one they all hire to cook their books. King is looking for him because of a situation years ago where he killed several members of a crime family, instead of just doing their taxes.
Wolff gets his jobs by a contact who comes through the phone as only an electronic voice. This person gives him all the information he needs to show up and do some work. He takes a job for a robotics company outside Chicago because their in house accountant, Dana Cummings, has found some discrepancies in their books. The CEO, Lamar Blackburn, and his sister (Rita) cooperate, while their CFO believes it is all a mistake. Wolff finds the error while working with Cummings. Together – well, mostly him – they learn that $61 million has been embezzled from the company.
Before Cummings and Wolff can report it and solve it, an assassin visits the CFO, and kills him – by making him overdose on insulin so it looks like a suicide. Blackburn then tells Cummings and Wolff that the CFO embezzled the money and killed himself out of grief. The assassin also goes after Cummings, but Wolff figures that out and saves her. While on the run, Cummings learns more about Wolff, and he describes himself to her as a high-functioning autistic who finds comfort in the numbers. Together, they surmise that Rita must have been behind everything, but then Wolff finds she’s been killed as he was arriving at her place, this of course, proves Lamar is actually behind everything – which really should have been obvious from the jump, but hey – whatever. Wolff goes after Lamar who has hired the assassin to protect him, leading to the big action climax.
Meanwhile, Medina finds that Wolff is The Accountant, and she and King go to his house – but he’s already gone. While there, King tells her the story that his career is mostly built on busts that have been handed to him by the Accountant through the voice on the phone – and that he was using this as a test for her – to set her up for being his replacement at the Treasury department, and the new contact for the voice.
Director Gavin O’Connor (Warrior, Pride and Glory, and Miracle) really stepped back and let the movie go – the action is clean and fast, and the quiet in between scenes are well done. I’m not entirely sure how much research the cast and crew did on autism, and how adults with high-functioning autism work, but the movie feels very real. I thought the cast was excellent.
- Ben Affleck does an incredible job as Christian Wolff – it’s a fine balance between someone who is aware of their own circumstances, but has found a way to work around them.
- Anna Kendrick plays Dana Cummings, and while the age difference is really noticeable, she does a great job of finding Wolff charming and interesting, and slowly growing to appreciate his character.
- J. K. Simmons plays Ray King, and while we never get a scene with he and Affleck together (I wanted to test that Commissioner Gordon and Batman chemistry), he absolutely owns every scene he’s in. I loved his desire to train Medina on what he was doing and why it was important.
- Jon Bernthal plays the Assassin, and does a great job of being creepy, dangerous, and charming – a bit of an odd niche that he had really carved out for himself.
- Jeffrey Tambor plays Francis Silverberg – an accountant that Wolff meets while in prison. He becomes a mentor and father figure, helping Wolff figure out exactly what he’s going to do when he gets out of prison.
- Cynthia Addai-Robinson – previously deadly on the CW as their version of Amanda Waller – plays Medina, and once she’s blackmailed into helping King, she does a really great job of allowing Medina’s mind to open as she learns more and more about the Accountant.
- John Lithgow plays Lamar Blackburn, and while he tries to come off all pleasant and such – at no point was I not believing that he was the villain.
- Jean Smart plays Rita, the sister, and gets basically two scenes during which she red-herrings it up a bit.
Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. I liked how the movie unraveled slowly as more and more clues on all ends were discovered. It never really tried to hide the twists, but made them more of a goal as it worked through them. I will say that the parallel storylines along with the flashbacks made it necessary to really be paying attention to the characters. It’s an interesting style that mixed good action with good storytelling, check it out – I think you’ll like it.
8 out of 10, interesting and well-paced, but not fast, and not slow. Well-crafted.
Bonus – Cast Interviews