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The Accountant

As the years go on, and maybe this is just a matter of perception, but it seems that a large portion of major cinematic releases are effects-laden adventures, comedies, or family films. np-1This certainly rings true when it comes to the summer season. Shortly thereafter, we see the content shift more towards heavy-hitting dramas that are making a play to take home some of the hardware that will doled out during award season. For these reasons, it seems as if it has become increasingly rare for the suspense/thriller genre to find its place. This category of film has been shifting much more towards the horror and supernatural realm in the last decade, with straight-laced pulse-pounders virtually falling off of the map.

For these reasons, Ben Affleck’s latest venture, THE ACCOUNTANT, was a welcome divergence from the atypical Hollywood production. After the disappointment of BATMAN V SUPERMAN, Affleck gives a phenomenal performance as introvert Christian Wolff. A brilliant mathematician who is afflicted with a form of high-functioning autism, he is a solitary soul who finds comfort in puzzles and equations. Living alone and set in a rigid routine, he takes jobs that appeal to a very particular type of clientele. Possessing the ability to solve the most complex and intricate problems imaginable, he makes a living fixing the books for a number of nefarious clients. To shield himself from law enforcement agencies, he also prepares taxes for a small agency within a small strip mall.

Wolff is enlisted to take a look at the accounting records for Living Robotics. The company, run by Lamar Black (John Lithgow), is one of the most influential scientific entities in the country, providing prosthetics and other aid to those in need. Due to the complexities of their multi-faceted finances, when an inconsistency is found by accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) the company enlists Wolff to get to the bottom of the discrepancies. Over the course of an evening, he discovers that one of the employees has been skimming money for years. What he doesn’t realize is that by solving the mystery, he has put his life and Dana’s at risk. When it becomes apparent that someone wants both of them dead, he abandons his life of no-strings-attached solitude in order to keep her alive.

Despite his outward appearance, Wolff harbors a dangerous secret. Though he makes his living using mathematics, he is also a highly-trained and ruthless killing machine. Growing up, his father didn’t believe in traditional forms of treatments when it came to his autism. Instead, he taught the boy and his brother to fight, and to channel his disability in a variety of different ways. This allowed Wolff to evolve into an efficient, calculated, and cold-blooded dude. While he is constantly careful and does not stay in the same place for long, his actions have garnered the attention of the director of financial crimes in the Treasury Department, Ray King (JK Simmons). King, who is on the cusp of retirement, assigns analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) with the daunting task of tracking down the elusive accountant.

The AccountantThe first half of THE ACCOUNTANT is pretty fantastic. The plot is intriguing and multi-layered, and is highlighted by Affleck’s spectacular turn. His character is complex and mysterious, and he effectively exudes an air of mystery and danger. Wolff is socially awkward and his penchant for savagery definitely exposes some flaws, yet he is inherently likable. He is a man of few words, his bursts of violence are sudden and scarily precise, and his true motivations remain puzzling and secretive. There are brief moments of humor in THE ACCOUNTANT, which are neither exploitive nor misguided. Whether it is an inappropriately timed and timid waive, or small snippet of dialogue, these moments effectively break the tension without slowing down the story. Another welcome surprise was the relationship that develops between Wolff and Dana. It didn’t follow the typical on-screen formula that usually unfolds in movies such as these, even when I was certain that this is where their union was heading.

The final act of the film is where things begin to falter. As the multitude of story lines reach their inevitable conclusion, things get convoluted. Big reveals that should be shocking fall surprisingly flat, and I have to admit that I was baffled by the film’s climax. I want to remain spoiler-free, as difficult as it is in this case, but I felt that it was a disappointingly unoriginal way to wrap everything up. Given how superb the majority of the movie was, to see it end in such a generic and uninspired way diminished my overall perception and the lasting impact of an otherwise excellent film. Still, given the current climate when it comes to this genre, THE ACCOUNTANT was a welcome excursion into some seldom explored scenarios.


RATED: RUN TIME: 2h 18min

GENRE: Action, Crime, Drama

STARRING: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow

DIRECTORs: Gavin O’Connor Writers:  Bill Dubuque

A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA for allowing me to attend this month’s film.np-2

Brian Miller