I like Ben Affleck and I enjoy watching him act. He provides a credible performance as Christian Wolff, an autistic adult, whose father (Robert C. Treveiler) refused to baby him and forced him to learn to defend himself.
In "The Accountant" Wolff has become a small town CPA to hide his real job as a forensic accountant for organizations around the world which are less than legal --- mostly downright dangerous. His latest client, a legitimate one, is a robotics firm helmed by Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow).
Blackburn and his sister Rita (Jean Smart) are concerned that someone in the company has been stealing money and they hire Wolff to find the culprit. The early discrepancies were discovered by Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), an accounting clerk assigned to aid Wolff with his investigation.
His autism prevents him from relating to people, but something about Dana triggers new feelings for Wolff. To complicate matters, Wolff is being tracked by a U.S. Treasury agent, Ray King (J.K. Simmons) and his underling, Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), and another set of cold-blooded killers intent on annihilating Wolff and Dana.
Written by Bill Dubuque, one of the writers responsible for the horrid 2014 film "The Judge", and directed by Gavin O'Connor, "The Accountant" is an action thriller with a good amount of action, but not a lot of thrills. Though Wolff and Dana appear to be in great peril, it never really feels like anything bad will happen to either of them --- therein lies the less-than-thrilling aspect. But Dubuque does do an excellent job pointing out the intricate details of autism, which can be debilitating, yet the story remains hopeful.
The cast, which also includes the terrific Jeffrey Tambor, is outstanding. I am not a Kendrick fan, however. Usually I find her --- and her voice --- so incredibly annoying. Thankfully, it is not a huge role so the annoyance factor is greatly reduced. She's actually perfectly cast as the meek accounting employee who finds herself way in over her head.
Affleck puts a great deal of effort into his portrayal. His autistic rituals are performed well --- precise and exacting --- so we believe he suffers with the lonely aspects of his impairment. Viewing his eating habits with one, fork, knife, spoon and plate, and blowing on his fingertips before beginning his dinner, aptly illustrate the peculiarities associated with many neurological disorders. His performance may not be Oscar-worthy, but it is impressive.
I have a pet peeve I have written about many times which is allowing the "bad" guy too much time to talk before getting his due. My favorite scene in "The Accountant" eliminates that outcome when Wolff, in the middle of a conversation with someone else, picks up his gun and pops the offender, who clearly deserves his fate. It made me so happy.
"The Accountant" is entertaining enough. I enjoyed the characters and storyline and particularly liked the ending, which I found endearing rather than false in its efforts, as some my claim. It's apparent that Warner Bros. Pictures may be considering a franchise. It will all depend upon their accountants and whether or not this is financially worthy.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!
I look forward to any film with Ben Affleck, but honestly,
"The Accountant" lacks the electricity and urgency of his best movies, "Argo", "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town". Then again, Affleck doesn't direct here --- that's left to someone else who lacks the star's ability to create tension and completely immerse the audience.
"The Accountant" delves into subject matters like short trading and money laundering, rather unevenly. Although the loose ends are nicely tied up by the end, and Affleck's character, despite his penchant for violence, ultimately elicits a favorable response from the viewer, the movie overall left me less than satisfied.
Affleck plays Christian Wolff. the adult version of his younger self (Seth Lee), an autistic boy whose hyperactive behavior includes solving a jigsaw puzzle at breakneck speed, and erupting into a spasm of fits when the final piece is temporarily lost. The adult Christian channels his upbringing by being a mild-mannered, non-empathetic accountant, but one we would all like to have prepare our taxes. In one scene, he asks a couple how much space their home office takes up, and then adds 50% to the number to get them a better tax break.
But there's more. Christian is actually a cold-blooded killer with a penchant for high-powered rifles. Due to his autism, he's socially challenged, a true loner, whose only potential female companionship in the film comes in the form of Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), an employee at a company run by Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow), but Christian eschews her momentary advance, clearly uncomfortable at the notion.
Meanwhile, Christian is being investigated by the U.S. Treasury, led by Ray King (an overacting J. K. Simmons) and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). And he's got a killer following him (an unrecognizable Jon Bernthal). The blame for Christian's anti-social livelihood could lie with his overbearing father, played by Robert C. Trevailer (you know the face, not the name), who hires a martial arts expert to teach him and his younger brother self defense and discipline. After a while, I just wanted this overblown story to come to a merciful end.
Jeanne liked "The Accountant" partially because Christian wastes no time in blowing people away. She decries a script that calls for the protagonist to delay shooting a villain to the point where said villain gets away, survives, etc. No such luck here for the bad guys, much to Jeanne's delight.
"The Accountant" is interesting from the stand point of how a troubled upbringing, exacerbated by a demanding parent, can lead to an even more disturbed adulthood. But it tries to incorporate too many sidebars without fully developing any of them. It is written by Bill Dubuque, who penned "The Judge" --- a prime example of very bad writing. Gavin O'Connor directs, his only real achievement being "Miracle", a movie celebrating the life of USA hockey coach Herb Brooks, who led his squad to the stunning victory over the heavily-favored Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
It is Ben Affleck's presence alone in "The Accountant" that saves it from being a "Don't Bother!". His on-screen charisma, and the satisfactory ending, only partially make up for this mediocre effort.
Opinion: Mild Wait for DVD