Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque
Stars: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons
Ben Affleck as a genius, obsessive, problem-solving martial arts expert who spends his time battering people who have contradicted his personal moral code? Nope, it’s not a potential script for the upcoming Batman movie. It’s The Accountant – a beat ‘em up with calculators.
Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a forensic accountant who happens to have a high functioning form of autism. Through a series of flashbacks we see that the young Christian had the opportunity to attend a private institution which specialised in the development of people like Christian. His father believed it would be better for his son to live at home and learn to adjust to the world, rather than expect the world to be kind to him.
Ultimately, this is the decision that led to Christian’s mother to leave her family, presumably because of the pressure in raising a boy with such violent and destructive behaviour along with his younger brother.
His father is in the Special Forces and believes that a life of focused discipline and carefully challenged energy is the key to living a productive life, even for his autistic son. Having his both his sons trained in martial arts and sharpshooting is, in his opinion, the cornerstone Chris and his brother need.
Years later, Chris has used that channeled energy to pursue a rather lucrative career as a forensic accountant with some very questionable clients, given assistance by an unknown woman who only contacts Chris by telephone. Chris is given a contract to audit a state-of-the-art prosthetics corporation, Living Robotics, where discrepencies have been found by their own accountant Dana (Anna Kendrick).
The CEO, Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow) cooperates with Chris, while the CFO and Blackburn’s oldest friend, Ed Chilton, dismisses any findings. Chris uncovers a missing $61 million, leading him to believe that Chilton has stolen from his company and his friend. A hitman (Jon Bernthal) then pays Chilton a visit and forces him to overdose on the insulin he takes for his diabetes.
Ray King (JK Simmons) is the director of FinCEN in the Treasury Department and has recruited Marybeth Medina in tracking down the ‘Accountant’, as he’s known. He’s wanted in connection to a ‘hit’ on the Gambino crime family.
Through a recording at the site of the shoot-out, Medina is able to isolate Chris repeating the Soloman Grundy nursery rhyme over and over, which she suspects is consistent with autistic behaviour. It transpires that King had a brief connection with the Accountant at the site of the Gambino hit when Chris had his gone pointed at him. King, with his back to Chris, was spared when trying to capture the hitman after questioning him about being a “good father”, something King believes drives the Accountant’s own moral code. King further reveals that the woman on the phone had contacted him, revealing secrets about people who “violated” the Accountant’s code and, thus, helped King rise to the position of Director.
When hitmen come after Dana, Chris expertly thwarts their attempt using his acquired skill set expertly. Dana, confused as to how an accountant can take out a team of armed assasins runs and hides with Chris to a lock-up where he’s kept a Streamline trailer filled with cash, gold, passports and other such things he’s been paid in-kind, such as rare comic books and priceless works of art.
It would be easy to dismiss a lot about The Accountant but, in truth, it’s a wonderfully fun action thriller.
The dialogue in the interactions between Affleck and Kendrick is a little sloppy, and most of Chris’ genius stems from a formulaic blend of the clichéd wise fool and an unspecified military education with a 60 second scene of a young Chris training with an old Asian man in martial arts. And there’s a couple of jokes about how he ‘doesn’t get’ things. A bit hackneyed. But that’s just nitpicking. It is a very enjoyable movie, even with a twist that most could see coming from a great distance.
It’s worth it just to see Batman fight the Punisher in a comic book mash-up we’ll never see onscreen again.