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The Accountant, a new action-thriller from Warrior director Gavin O’Connor starring Ben Affleck tells the story of a mild-mannered autistic accountant named Christian Wolff, who not only displays extraordinary mathematic prowess but also shows incredible physical prowess when circumstances spin out of control when his past comes back to haunt him.
Audiences will be somewhat surprised by The Accountant because it not only takes its time to tell its story, most of it is done in flashback sequences. Christian’s Asperger’s Syndrome is diagnosed early in the movie, almost in its first scene, so there is no mystery to solve there. Christian’s parents have taken him to a school for children with special needs and after a chat with the person in charge, his father, a lifelong military man, decides his son’s shortcomings can be treated better using more unconventional methods. Those methods include intense martial arts and weapons training with the purpose of giving him skills to fight bullies. Christian somehow parlays these skills into becoming an accountant for some of the most dangerous men in the world. The movie then shifts its’ focus onto a treasury agent (J.K. Simmons) who enlists a young analyst to track down the identity of the accountant who seems to be doing the books for these crime lords, because Christian’s presence up to this point has only been detected indiscriminately in the back of secretly taken photos. Also around the same time period, Christian attempts to go straight and goes to work for a legitimate robotics company. Finally, there is parallel plot line with an evil enforcer (Jon Bernthal), who also seems to have unfinished business with some very shady people as well as Christian. In short, there is a lot going on in this movie.
Along for the ride, is the CEO of the robotics company (John Lithgow), a sweet female accountant played by Anna Kendrick, and a prison inmate (Jeffrey Tambor), who all play a significant part in Christian’s tale. At this point, the audience is just along for the ride.
The plot, or lack thereof, of The Accountant is kind of ridiculous, but it works. A mentally challenged bad ass who has to defend himself from the criminals that he works for decide to retaliate against him is a pretty far out, yet intriguing concept. Ben Affleck’s monosyllabic dialogue, lack of facial cues and deadpan line delivery really make this character work. Some of the flashbacks work, but after a while they become a little repetitive. We get it, he’s dangerous. Also, while The Accountant tells its story in great detail, a lot of those details are out of sequence and confusing to the audience. For example, there is a scene included that alludes to the fact that Christian isn’t the good guy that the movie presents in the beginning, but instead of making you having a greater understanding of why Christian’s character is questioned, it makes you lose a little sympathy for him and start to see him as a little antagonistic.
The Accountant is fun because of its ridiculous premise and its action sequences, but honestly, a lot of the movie is a convoluted mess. The fun could have increased if the director cut back on a lot of the flashbacks and developed the supporting characters more, not just the lead. I would also like to see a sequel, but with way more focus on the present instead of the past.