Director: Gavin O'Connor
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, J.K. Simmons, John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor, Alison Wright, Cynthia Addai-Robinson
Runtime: 2 hrs 8 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Violence and Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Warner Bros
Official Website: http://www.accountantmovie.com
Opening Day: 13 October 2016
Synopsis: Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (J.K. Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.
Ever thought that the life of an accountant is boring, with balance sheets and financial statements day in day out? Well, these accountants are probably not trying hardenough, unlike Ben Affleck’s Christian Wolff, millionaire CPA accountant andforensic accounting extraordinaire by day and self-righteous vigilante by night. Which coincidentally, sounds like another one of Affleck’s recent roles (without the CPA certification).
The movie starts with someone, presumed to be the titular accountant, secretly entering a gang hideout that just got attacked. Without any further explanation, the scene then changes to thecurrent day, where we see our accountant attempting to help an old couple withtheir tax returns, before getting himself hired to uncook the books for Living Robotics’ CEO Lamar Black (John Lithgow). At the same time, Federal Treasury analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) starts on her quest to find the accountant after being blackmailed by her boss Ray King (J.K.Simmons).
As the story progresses, the audience is given glimpses into Wolff’s troubled childhood, tough love upbringing and experiences, which has resulted in him transferring his talent into mad accountancy skills with a gym trainer-esque body build. At the same time, the movie’s portrayal also glorifies Wolff to be the typical high performing autistic genius, brilliant in everything he does except socialising with others. While there might be some accuracy there, this stereotypical portrayal is honestly overused, and studios can really do better by adding morelayers to autistic characters, instead of letting autism define their entire character.
Perhaps an attempt to showcase Wolff’s anti social tendencies, while adding another element to the story, was by introducing the almost-nonexistent romance with unwilling accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick). When placed together with Wolff, this pairing is limited to awkward staring into each other’s’ eyes, while the other is sleeping or behind each other’s back, which is uncomfortable at best, creepy at worst. With such a paper-thin romance, it would probably be better to get rid of it altogether. Also a side note – Kendrick seems to be type casted as the chirpy, dorky character that tries too hard (think Twilight, 50/50 and Into theWoods ). While that might be cute and likeable a few movies back, it gets old fast and one would hope that she changes the roles she takes on, quick.
Weak characterization aside, the biggest draw of the movie was probably the suspense and pacing. As the current day storyline frequently interchanges with Wolff’s past, this increases the pace and sense of urgency for both Wolff and Medina to complete what they were made to do. Unsurprisingly, the movie also had its fairshare of violence – expected given the movie’s opening scene and the accountant’s usual clientele of mobsters, drug lords and very rich men. Disappointingly, all the suspense and badass-ness promptly died away at the end, when it became more comedic than anything. In an attempt to wrap up the story quickly, all the built-up suspense was thrown out of the window, as Simmon’s Treasury Chief Ray King explains why he made Medina go on her search, and Wolff tries to keep Cummings safe. The hurried end also led to more than a few loose ends, such as why did Wolff ask King if he was a good father? How did the accountant not know who was behind the hit? What was the real reason for King’s blackmail?
With The Accountant set to compete in the Academy Awards, one thinks that a better thought-out resolution would have lifted the movie. Instead, the movie might just be remembered as the one that shows other accountants how exciting and rich (and dangerous) their lives could be.
(Perhaps not as exciting as promised by the summary and trailer, but surprisingly watchable nonetheless)
Review by Goh Yan Hui