The Accountant
Affleck Cooks the Books

It seems like Ben Affleck takes a lot of flak in Hollywood and is for some reason one of those guys whom people like to see fail.  Sure there have been a few times when it was desevered—Gigli, anyone?—but for the most part, the negative reaction is not warranted.  One of the most popular Internet videos of the year was making fun of the actor’s saddened expression when asked about the negative response to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and yet, most of the reviews of the movie—this writer’s included—have actually praised the actor’s performance as one of the movie’s few bright spots.

Affleck has proven to be a legitimate three-pronged threat in the movie industry as an actor, a director, and a screenwriter.  He has already taken home an Academy Award for his screenwriting and directed another movie to the top prize at the Oscars.  He is actor only in his new movie, The Accountant, and as long as people don’t go in with a mind to look for reasons to dislike the movie and its star, they are going to find that what they get is a suspenseful and entertaining action thriller.

Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff in The AccountantAffleck stars as Christian Wolff, a high-functioning autistic man who works as a strip-mall accountant.  His firm is a front, though, for his real job a hired gun who cooks the books for many dangerous criminal organizations.  He has a house, but most of his important possessions are stored in a camping trailer at a storage garage so that he can hook it up to his truck and go on the run at a moment’s notice.

When Wolff is hired by a huge robotics company to find out what happened to the sixty thousand dollars that was found to be missing in their financial records, Wolff and the company’s staff accountant Dana Cummings find out more than they were supposed to, leading them square into the crosshairs of a deadly security firm.  Meanwhile, a Treasury agent has recruited one of the agencey’s analysts to solve the puzzle of this mysterious accountant who has been spotted in the company of many top-level suspects.

Ben Affleck delivers another solid performance in The Accountant, which might be the closest the actor has come to finding a companion piece to friend Matt Damon’s Bourne franchise.  The actor is believable in both the action scenes and the scenes of awkward social interaction between his character and others, and in particular, that of Anna Kendrick as Dana Cummings.  Kendrick is always a delight to find in any movie and that is true here as well, as is J.K. Simmons who plays the Treasury agent on Affleck’s trail.

The movie’s plot is somewhat formulaic with the hero discovering something he should not have and then having to evade those coming to kill him all while trying to solve the puzzle at the center of the story.  Formulaic as it might be, though, it is never boring.  The movie moves at a good pace for the most part, is suspenseful, and keeps you guessing as to the secrets of the plot.  And even though it is mostly a dramatic action thriller, the movie never forgets that it is ultimately an entertainment and reminds us every now and then that it has a sense of humor.

The only time the movie really struggles is at the end of the second act when J.K. Simmons’ character literally kicks back on the couch to tell us all of the key story elements that the movie has been keeping secret from us to this point.  Although the reveals are interesting, it would have been nice if the screenplay could have worked them in throughout the entire movie instead of slamming on the brakes with all this exposition right at the moment when the movie should be ramping up for the action-packed final act.

The world of The Accountant feels like what life would be like for John Nash from A Beautiful Mind if he really was the spy he thought he was.  It is an entertaining action thriller with good performances and more than one twist to keep you guessing.  Although the movie certainly does not try to set up a sequel, should this movie be a hit I could very easily see this turning into an action franchise along the lines of Jack Reacher, Bourne, or Keanu Reeves’ John Wick.  Its level of success may very well depend on whether audiences can forget their unwarranted dislike for Ben Affleck and start to appreciate him for the good work he has continued to produce, a category to which The Accountant qualifies.

The Accountant is rated R for “strong violence and language throughout.”  There are a lot of people getting shot or stabbed to death, but the movie stops short of going overboard with the blood and guts.  Still worthy of an R, but not an extreme one.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of The Accountant.