“The Accountant” Cooks Books and Settles Scores

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Wikipedia

Director Gavin O’Connor’s latest film, “The Accountant,” feels like an adaptation, despite its original screenplay written by Bill Dubuque; the thriller’s characters, plot and dialog all seem ripped from the pages of a book written by Robert Ludlum, Lee Child or any other popular paperback novelist with a penchant for violence and highly-capable protagonists.

Ben Affleck stars as the movie’s titular accountant Christian Wolff, a small town CPA whose legitimate business serves as a cover protecting his true clientele: international criminal organizations who need a disinterested party to find and obtain stolen funds. Affleck is perfectly suited for the role; it doesn’t require much range, allowing the actor to remain a near-silent cypher for the majority of the film’s runtime. He perfects the quiet, commanding presence he attempted to employ in this year’s poorly-received “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Affleck’s Batman was a dumb, mopey sadist who kept quiet because he had nothing interesting to say. In contrast, his Wolff is an intelligent, feeling man diagnosed with autism, who struggles to connect with those around him.

Wolff is placed in immediate danger when an ostensibly legitimate prosthetics company hires him to uncover an employee skimming money from the firm’s accounts. It’s quickly revealed that not all is as it seems, and Wolff is forced to hunt down the rival assassins hired to eliminate both him and Dana Cummings, the young accountant who discovered the discrepancy prompting Wolff’s investigation. Cummings is played by the ever-charming Anna Kendrick, an actor best known for her work in musical productions. Shamefully, Cummings is sidelined by the film’s script, which places her in the reductive role of a damsel in distress.

The fantastic J.K. Simmons is expectedly excellent as treasury employee Ray King, the cantankerous government agent intent on confronting Wolff. Simmons dominates every scene in which he appears, delivering a masterful performance as a complicated man with a complicated connection to Wolff.

The twists and turns in the plot of “The Accountant” vary in their effectiveness. While all are clear – to its credit, the film is far from confusing – not all are surprising. For the most part, the movie’s revelations are rewarding and unexpected, as they should be. But the film’s major twist is far from a surprise. Instead, it creeps along, its final reveal both obvious and inevitable.

A solid action-adventure with a unique protagonist, “The Accountant” doesn’t aim for the stars, but it does achieve what it sets out to do, delivering an intense and interesting story that entertains. Filmgoers looking for a good-old-fashioned thriller should place “The Accountant” in their crosshairs.