Without spoilers, I will say that your enjoyment of The Accountant may depend on how you feel about the ending. I liked it, but I can see how some would feel that maybe it’s a tad too clever. I give screenwriter Bill Dubuque and director Gavin O’Connor credit for not making a dumb action movie–not that there is anything wrong with them.
The trailer’s use of Radiohead’s “Everything in the Right Place” and the sparse, atmospheric visuals made The Accountant appear to be a close relation to The American. It’s not, but that’s okay. This is also an original idea and not based on a book series. If you told me otherwise–and that the author is Scandinavian–I would have believed you. I would also believed you if you had said the film was based on a graphic novel.
When you have an idea for a plot that takes disparate concepts and welds them together, it can be easy for the result to come out looking like a Mad Lib. For example: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. In The Accountant, Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff who is an autistic accountant assassin. Much like when I saw the trailer for Tropic Thunder, I knew that The Accountant was either going to be genius or the worst idea ever. Thankfully, autism wasn’t considered to be a superpower when it comes to being a killing machine.
Christian hides in plain sight, operating out of a strip mall in small town Illinois, where his clients are farmers and small business owners. His “real” job is as a forensic accountant for mob bosses, drug dealers, etc. In a lesser movie, the filmmakers would have concentrated on the latter aspect. They would have Christian working for some Russian oligarch who is surrounded by half-naked hotties, and the soundtrack would be littered with songs that are an assault on good taste and eardrums.
Christian also takes legit offers from large companies, such as Living Robotics. Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) discovers that something is fishy with the finances, so her bosses (John Lithgow, Jean Smart) bring in Christian to do his thing. I like how there was no romantic subplot involving Christian and Dana. If there had been, their sexts would probably involve complicated math equasions and quotes from the tax code.
One time tested trope is that of the baddie who is on on par with the hero. “The Assassin” is played by Jon Bernthal, who never fails to deliver in any role. The Assassin could have been a one note throwaway who was placed in the film because the genre demands it. I think he’s the best character of this type since Clive Owen’s The Professor in The Bourne Identity. I was going to say that The Assassin is so good he could be in a James Bond film, but the way he was written makes him perfect for an episode of Sherlock.
Another trope that is well done is that of the government agents that are on the hero’s tail (it was either that or a newspaper reporter). In The Accountant, Treasury agents Raymond King, (J.K. Simmons) and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) are trying to figure out who this guy is and what’s his deal.
Part of the story is told in flashbacks, all of which pay off at one point or another, such as the one involving a character played by Jeffrey Tambor. It’s a bit obvious to have him play a guy in prison, but this person is a far cry from George Bluth. Or is he?