By Jeffrey M. Anderson
Many films about hired killers and assassins, from Le Samourai to The American, feature lead characters that live in their own little worlds. They are loners. They are meticulous and minimalist and they stick to routines.
The Accountant wonders what would happen if this character has a high-functioning form of autism.
Although it’s questionable whether people on that scale will be able to handle watching a bloody film like this, at least it paints a portrait of a super-cool autistic guy for others to consider.
The Accountant was written by Bill Dubuque, who also wrote the Robert Downey Jr./Robert Duvall film The Judge. In both films, the overall story arc is far from original, and is often blandly predictable.
But, both films also use their time to draw up interesting characters with full histories and emotional interactions; Dubuque’s screenplays attract good actors and inspire good performances.
Ben Affleck takes the lead as Christian Wolff (one of many aliases), who works as an accountant by day, helping ma and pa farmers ease their tax bill, but occasionally smoothing out the books for slightly shady corporations.
Having grown up trained by a military father, he can also out-shoot or out-fight any hired thug who happens to get in his way.
In stories like this, the hero’s routine is interrupted. This time, it’s when he takes a job at a robotics company, headed by Lamar Black (John Lithgow). There, a junior accountant, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), has discovered discrepancies.
Their financial investigation results in a death, and suddenly Dana’s life is in danger. Christian decides to protect her by killing anyone who has ever looked at her sideways.
The catch is that someone special is now hired to protect Mr. Black.
J.K. Simmons co-stars in a solid performance as the Treasury director, chasing after Wolff and bringing an analyst (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) along for her first fieldwork.
Director Gavin O’Connor’s movies (Miracle, Pride and Glory, Warrior, etc.) are usually a tad more serious than this one, yet he lightens up nicely, allowing moments of humor to break through; Affleck and Kendrick’s interactions are funnier than they are sexy.
O’Connor’s sense of space and movement is far more assured than most other “action” directors working today.
While the story chugs along to its pre-conceived destination, individual scenes continually spring pleasant little surprises along the way. In other words, this “Accountant” is, at best, an un-taxing experience.