WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
What happens when you give Batman autism and a weird love for Jackson Pollock paintings? Well, you get Ben Affleck in The Accountant. When the trailers were first released for this film, they really didn’t tell you much about the type of character or really the type of movie this was. There was a lot of secrecy around this project and it’s hard to gauge how much faith the studio truly had in this movie. Outside of some noticeable production delays, the movie was also pushed back into the land where film success goes to die…the fall season. Despite all the warning signs of Warner Bros dumping this movie with no competition in order to make a profit, there was still enough intrigue to see what all the hype was about so I decided to check out The Accountant and now I understand why it took nearly two years for this film to come out.
Our story begins with a boy named Christian Wolff, a highly functional but highly disabled young man. Christian has a form of autism that severely hinders his communication skills and gives him a nearly crippling form of OCD. However, it does heighten his IQ, mathematical, and motor skills. As a child, his mother walks away from his family leaving his Army father to raise him and his brother by himself. Years later, Christian is an accountant who owns a small CPA business in a middle of nowhere town. Little does the real world know that Christian actually cooks the books for some of the most dangerous clients in the world and uses his business as a cover. Christian decides to take a job from a much safer and legal client named Living Robotics. A whistleblower notices that a large sum of money seems to be missing from the books. Christian asks for all the financial records in the last 15 years and unravels a dark secret in the matter of one night.
Our film begins to lose its focus on the plot in the second half and seemly turns into a different movie entirely. The movie begins as a character study of the genius that Christian possesses as he can work any set of numbers in his head and even uncook 15 years of financial information overnight. That’s what makes him great at his job. Later on, however, the film seemly abandons the premise of what they spent 2 hours to build but I’ll explain that later. The company whistleblower, Dana (Anna Kendrick) is also good at crunching numbers but to nearly as good as Christian. Dana is a naive bookworm who doesn’t understand the gravity of what she has uncovered. There is a lot of awkward dialogue between the two which is done on purpose to display Christian’s difficulty in communicating with others. While Dana and Christian are looking for the pattern of missing money, there are a couple of treasury agents hot on his tail. Raymond King (J. K. Simmons) and his trainee Marybeth (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) are trying to reveal the identity of the man who has been involved with the world’s most dangerous people and the same man responsible for the murders of numerous people.
The Accountant feels like a cut and paste film due to the fact there are three different films happening at once and none of the narratives support each other. 1/3 of the story is focused on the character of Christian, another 1/3 is about a retiring agent and a determined apprentice, and another 1/3 is about a hitman who works for companies to take out their ‘bad element’. Not only are three different plots happening but the tone of the film shifts as well. The beginning is a Batman like origin story, the middle is full of filler and exposition, and the last act is a shoot em’ up that feels like something you would see in a Marvel Netflix series. Speaking of the Punisher, Jon Bernthal stars as a hitman named Braxton who cleans up the loose ends in the world of Corporate America. Not much is known about him until the end where he tries to save the CEO of Living Robotics who is discovered to be the bad guy behind the mysterious murders. Christian is shown with his brother but is never really mentioned in his adult life. His brother is always shown in a flashback but you never see him in…Surprise! Braxton and Christian are brothers! You literally see this coming about 25 minutes before it happens. When the brothers are reunited, the plot that was built up for 2 hours is completely forgotten about. The main conflict and villain are instantly disregarded and the film’s ending only makes you wonder, what the point of all of this was?
The Accountant is a film that is hurt by having one plotline too many. For a 2+ hour film, if they cut out either the Treasury Agent angle or the family angle, they could have polished up the overall writing issues of the movie. Ben Affleck delivers a good performance in a disappointing film. All the other actors feel wasted in their performances. ‘Less is more’ should have been the motto for this movie. While there are sprinkles of greatness throughout the movie, it’s things such as having nearly 10 minutes of exposition to bring the film to a screeching halt right before a Jason Bourne action scene concludes the movie that enables me from giving this any more than a decent rating. If Warner Bros wants Ben Affleck to be an action star in a new trilogy, they are better off waiting for the Caped Crusader to make his big screen return…without Zack Snyder.
OFFICIAL RATINGs: **
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