This movie is nuts.
The trailers for The Accountant would lead you to believe that it is a tense thriller in which Ben Affleck plays a high-functioning autistic man (Christian Wolff) who is both the go-to financial whiz for Really Bad Guys . . . and an international assassin. You would assume that Anna Kendrick (as Dana Cummings) was his innocent co-worker of sorts, and that J.K. Simmons (as Ray King) was a government agent tasked with figuring out who and where Wolff is and bringing him to justice. And all of that is pretty much the case. What you would not expect is that this movie would go so completely OFF THE RAILS in its third act that you’d be laughing out loud at its obvious and not-so-obvious twists and wink-wink-we-all-know-this-is-cray-cray banter between characters. It’s one of those movies that is SO bonkers that I walked out of the theater a bit dazed by everything that had transpired in its final thirty minutes.
The Girl on the Train is another currently-in-theaters film that unravels near its conclusion, ruining what could’ve otherwise been a decent mystery-thriller. Whereas The Accountant—which becomes even more ludicrous than Girl is as it nears its climactic finale—somehow still works. I think the difference is that The Accountant’s director and cast are in on the absurdity of it all and completely own it. They’re not taking anything too seriously. And for that reason, this is a film that you will either love or hate.
I surprised myself by being on the “loved it” side, because usually I have no tolerance for silliness within thrillers, and typically my base requirement is that they have to make SOME sort of sense. So I have to hand it to director Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) for looking at Bill Dubuque’s script—filled with characters like The Clichéd Gruff Guy About to Retire Who Just Needs to Solve This One Last Case, along with a martial-arts-trained autistic boy who grows up to be a strip-mall-working, fine-art-collecting Jason Bourne-meets-Will Hunting—and still be like, “Yep, I can do something with this.” Connor cuts away to a flashback whenever we need to understand something else about why Wolff is the way he is, and even though most of those flashbacks are pretty unbelievable in their own right, they keep things moving and—perhaps more importantly—keep you from thinking too much about the rest of the messy plot.
The cast also saves the film. If it were a bunch of newbies in the main roles, The Accountant would not have worked, because when things get really really weird at the end, I only rolled with it because it was clear these actors and actresses I feel like I “know” were also having so much fun. (Though I would argue that they could’ve probably found a better A-lister to play Wolff. While Affleck’s delivery and expressions (or lack thereof) were fine, the fact that he’s still so bulked up from Batman was incongruous with what we know of his character. Seemed like they should’ve gotten someone a little more lean and mean instead.) Kendrick and Simmons play exactly the kind of characters we expect from them, and others like John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor, Jean Smart and Jon Bernthal were also perfectly cast. In fact, the only actress I wasn’t familiar with going into the film was Cynthia Addai-Robinson (from Sparticus and Arrow), who plays an analyst Simmons’ King assigns to the case. As her character is the only one truly in the dark about everything that’s going on, it worked well to have a lesser-known actress in this role.
The Bottom-Line? The Accountant is definitely worth renting, if for no other reason than to be wowed by the guts that Connor and the cast display for embracing its insanity. But I would argue that it’s worth seeing now in the theater, too, in order to enjoy fellow moviegoers’ reactions to the ridiculous “reveals” at the end. You WILL be entertained, just not in the way you’re probably expecting!
Cast: Ben Affleck (Christian Wolff), J.K. Simmons (Ray King), Anna Kendrick (Dana Cummings), Jon Bernthal (Brax), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Marybeth Medina), John Lithgow (Lamar Black)
Credits: Directed by Gavin O’Connor; written by Bill Dubuque
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Run Time: 2 hours 8 minutes
Erika Olson © October 14, 2016