“The Accountant” was originally set to star Mel Gibson in the lead role with the Coen Brothers directing. (Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures)
“The Accountant” is one of those few movies where, for every positive attribute you can name for the movie, there is essentially an equal con to conflict with it.
While working to find out if there is a discrepancy in a robotics company’s books involving millions of dollars, autistic accountant Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) finds himself being hunted down when he gets too close to the truth.
Pro: The cast is very good. “The Accountant” has an impressive cast of respectable actors including Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jeffery Tambor and John Lithgow, with the best performances coming from Affleck and Simmons. The movie also stars Cynthia Addai-Robinson, who played Amanda Waller in “Arrow,” in what I believe is a breakout role, and she too does a good job.
Con: While the actors are good in their roles, a number of the roles are ultimately pointless to the movie. Simmons and Robinson play federal agents who are tracking Wolff, and their involvement in the story has no payoff to it. To add insult to injury, they are both given interesting backstories and at least one-third of the movie’s screen time when everything involving them could have been cut out and not affected the rest of the movie.
Pro: There are a number of scenes in the movie that particularly stand out, mostly from the work of the actors in those scenes. Some of the best scenes in the movie are between Affleck and Kendrick, and Simmons and Robinson.
Con: There are also a number of scenes that are either dumb, forced or drastically miscalculated. For example, Wolff’s backstory is told through a series of flashbacks that are spaced out throughout the movie. At around the halfway point though, Wolff vocally explains his backstory to Dana Cummings (Kendrick). This results in all of the flashback sequences being totally unneeded and this one scene to be repetitive.
Pro: The characters in the movie are likable. As mentioned earlier, both of the federal agents who are trying to locate Wolff have interesting backstories that made them understandable and noteworthy. Kendrick is naturally likable on screen and the way Affleck plays the role of this socially awkward and autistic accountant makes him come across as eccentrically charming when he easily could have come across as a jerk.
Con: While Wolff is a decent character that works as the main protagonist of the movie, some of the stuff in his backstory involving his father’s role in training him is forced and ridiculous.
The only major pro to the movie that does not have a conflicting con is that the movie manages to operate its premise in a way that subverts expectations. The trailer for “The Accountant” made it look like it was a generic action movie with the gimmick of the action hero being autistic. While that is essentially what the movie is (an action film with an autistic action hero), the autistic element of Wolff does not feel like a gimmick and instead is important to how the story operates in the same way that having the main character be intellectually challenged was not a gimmick in “Forrest Gump.”
“The Accountant” is overall a movie that does a lot of things right, but also has a number of miscalculations.
Final Grade: C+