Directed by Gavin O’Connor
October 10, 2016 (TCL Chinese Theatre) / October 14, 2016 (United States)
An accountant that is not quite what he seems is hired by a robotics company to find out who has been stealing from them and finds himself embroiled in a fraud scheme.
Before I begin, I would like to tell whoever happens to read this post that this is the movie which essentially got me to decide to start a blog. This is the movie that made the decision. I am not talking about the film itself but rather what happened after one particular viewing of it. I had watched it and my cat decided to join me during my viewing. Nothing special there but afterwards I found myself discussing the movie with my cat and realized I either needed to find some movie friends to talk about movies with or start a blog.
As you can see I definitely started a blog. The movie friends thing not so much. Today is also the one-year anniversary (I think) of my blog going live so I figured I would finally tackle The Accountant.
Ben Affleck plays math savant Christian Wolff who has high functioning autism. Wolff uncooks the books for some of the worst people on the planet. But his character also has a strong moral code that if you cross it you will pay. For example he avenges the death of his friend Francis Silverberg (Jeffrey Tambor) who was the one that finally set him on his path of criminal accounting.
The Accountant is an interesting premise that benefits largely from Affleck’s character not having Hollywood style special needs. You can tell there is something different about Christian Wolff from the beginning. Affleck’s performance as Christian is filled with odd mannerisms. Normally in Hollywood the character with autism would appear normal and you would not know it until somebody specifically states that such and such a character has autism. The Predator is a good example of that with the son of main character Quinn McKenna.
Christian clearly has difficulty with social interaction and displays repetitive behavior and has a gift with math. Change is difficult for him and he follows a pattern in almost all he does. If you had not figured it out in the first few minutes of seeing Affleck’s performance, then you will notice it by the time the character arrives at his house and takes some meds and listens to pounding techno music. It is a weird and unsettling scene.
Some of the film is told in flashbacks to help illustrate the character of Christian. From an early age he has issues. His mother wants to send him to a special school for children, but his father takes it upon himself to mentor Christian into a functioning adult. A rather violent adult. Or he can be anyway when the situation calls for it. His brother Braxton (John Bernthal) is brought along because of association only. Both grow up into tough and hard individuals.
Aside from the two Trolls films I think this is the only movie with Anna Kendrick in it that I have seen. I would not say she kills it as Dana, the young employee that stumbles across the problem, but she is good and she does well enough that you care about what happens to her character. Reportedly the actress went over things with her mother who is an accountant to understand the character. More importantly the character of Dana is not someone who suddenly becomes capable of fending for herself against a group of professional killers. When her life is in jeopardy aside from a moment that prolongs her existence, she would have died without the intervention of Christian.
Maybe it is because of John Lithgow and his time on 3rd Rock from The Sun but I thought he was very good as the owner of the robotics company. It was a serious change of pace. It was good to see him in a dramatic role. I admit I am not a big follower of his work, but I always enjoy him when I do see him in something.
We get J. K. Simmons as Ray King who is a treasury agent with a career that was given a boost after he accidentally crosses paths with Christian at the Ravenite Social Club when Christian is avenging the death of his friend. At the start of the film he is retiring and has spent a good portion of his later career putting feather upon feather in his hat through information that Christian’s almost never seen assistant gives him. He is basically seeking a replacement and gets one in the form of Treasury Dept. data analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) who lied on her federal application and is being blackmailed by Ray to work for him or go to jail.
I do need to talk about Christian’s almost never seen assistant. I say “almost” because the character is only seen at two points in the film and neither is really obvious concerning her identity. In those moments they are just background characters for the most part. Nothing about the character is necessarily hidden. The clues are placed right out there but it is not obvious and when the big reveal comes you have a “Holy crap!” moment. As of this writing I am on my fourth or fifth viewing of the film and while not as impactful as the first time, it still hits nonetheless.
The Accountant is a fantastic action thriller. Things kick into high gear when Christian has to use the skills of Pencak Silat that his father forced him to learn to beat the living crap out of assassins as they try to kill Dana or him. And it is good stuff. Wolff has formed an attachment of sorts to Dana and this drives him to help her as well as connecting to his need to enforce his code.
If you have trouble understanding the plot of the movie and what they are doing at Living Robotics, look up Crazy Eddie Antar. He is mentioned in the film and he is a real person. The scheme of the fictitious company in the movie is exactly what Crazy Eddie did but on a much larger scale.
The Accountant is criminally underrated in my opinion. The script is solid with plenty going on. Christian is a different kind of film character for not only an action-oriented film but a major release in general. He is not suave or debonaire or witty. He is a special needs character that looks to be done closer what you might find in real life. The mental disability is portrayed in a much more realistic fashion than in the majority of Hollywood production. I am I will admit that they do take liberties but in the portrayal it is probably closer to fact than anything from what I can see.
But it also has some real emotional moments. Especially at the end when Christian finally meets up with Braxton. Braxton is not necessarily a coldhearted killer. He is an angry yet loving brother who can figure out why his only sibling has not been in touch with him in over 10 years. I felt his emotion there.
The Accountant is a solid action thriller with some great acting and a very good story. It has twists and turns and will hold you your attention from beginning to end. This is definitely a watch it!