Not everything totally adds up in The Accountant, one of those movies Ben Affleck squeezes in between suiting as Batman and directing his own acclaimed features. This one has Gavin O'Connor, the director behind Warrior and the rescuer of Jane Got a Gun, at the helm and he has quite a job on his hands. The Accountant isn't just any one thing. It plays sort of like Batman meets A Beautiful Mind meets The Thomas Crown Affair, and if that sounds like a glorious but entertaining mess then you've summed it up just right.
Affleck plays Christian Wolfe, an autistic math genius who could totally kick your butt. He spends his days working as a boring old accountant, the kind of guy you turn to around tax season. But obviously he's more than that because it would make for a pretty dull movie, otherwise. Chris' near-supernatural math skills have him working for some of the most dangerous people on the planet, uncooking the books for the mob and other criminal organizations. As payment he accepts priceless works of art rather than straight cash. The film isn't really about that, though.Yeah, it's part of it, but really the film is about how Christian becomes the amazing superhero known as The Accountant.
Okay, not really. Well...again, this is why The Accountant is so odd yet totally absorbing, because it is a little bit like a superhero origin story. For instance, much of the film details Christian's troubled childhood in a time when most people didn't understand what autism was. It didn't help that his father was a strong, militaristic type who rejected pansy things like therapy that might have eased Christian's comfort in society. Instead, Christian and his brother are forced to undergo a brutal crash course in pencak silat combat (think The Raid), which hardens his mind and body. Hence why Christian could totally kick your butt.
J.K. Simmons stars as Ray King, the top guy at the Treasury Department's law enforcement division who has spent most of his career trying to track down who The Accountant is. Now that he's near retirement, Ray has decided to blackmail a promising young agent (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to do what he couldn't, and if she can't then he'll make her checkered past public. That could be a complete story all to itself, and The Accountant is full of subplots that could make entire movies. Another involves Christian's latest job figuring out who is stealing money from a successful robotics first. Digging through 15 years of messy, complicated records, he finds a rare human connection with Dana (Anna Kendrick), who shares most of his nerdier analytical tendencies. Unfortunately, that's also what alerts certain enemies to Christian's whereabouts, forcing him to put down the calculator and pick up gun.
Penned with a noir-ish touch by Bill Dubuque, The Accountant balances its fantastical elements with the dramatic, character-driven aspects nicely. Although the pace is a little slow and some of the big reveals telegraphed, its helped by an all-around stellar cast. The biggest potential stumbling block, obviously, could have been Affleck's portrayal of someone on the autism spectrum. Fortunately he keeps any ticks and quirks to a minimum, holding a tight control on any expressions of emotion. His is the centerpiece performance, of course, while Kendrick, Addai-Robinson, Simmons, and a slightly unhinged Jon Bernthal provide strong backup support.
There's a lot left unresolved as if O'Connor and Affleck were setting up for a potential franchise, and perhaps they are. Taken as a whole The Accountant seems utterly ridiculous, but it's the smaller details that count. They're what will hopefully carry through if there's a sequel, hopefully titled The Accountant 2: Time to Collect.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5