Film Review: “The Accountant”

Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons
Directed by: Gavin O’Connor
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hrs 8 mins
Warner Bros

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Christian Wolff seems like a normal child. Until you spend time with him. Currently he is sitting at a table, feverishly putting a puzzle together. Suddenly he panics – he only has 999 of the 1000 pieces. When the missing piece is found Chris completes the puzzle. As he inserts the final piece we see that he has completed the puzzle upside down – the image is face-down. All we see is the blank cardboard back. “Is this normal,” Chris’ father asks the man Chris has been brought to meet. His reply: “Define normal.”

A well-crafted thriller, “The Accountant” picks up 20-years after the puzzle incident with young Christian Wolff (Affleck) now a successful C.P.A. With his dented thermos, brought-from-home sandwich and pocket protector, he could be the nerdy guy next door. Except Christian has a secret. One that Ray King (Simmons), head of the US Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division has been trying to solve for years. King enlists the help of Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to discover why Wolff seems to be involved with some very high profile (read: non-law abiding) customers. Meanwhile, Wolff has been also asked to solve a problem. When a corporate accountant for a major robotics company suspects that someone is stealing from the company she asks Christian to take a look at the books, which may or may not have been cooked for years.

Smartly directed, with a nice twist in the story, “The Accountant” rests squarely on the shoulders of Ben Affleck. I love the fact that he is a mathematical savant, giving the audience a chance to wonder what could have happened to Will Hunting had he not followed Skylar to California. Affleck gives Wolff a quiet coolness, never raising his voice or getting agitated. Kendrick’s role is really secondary. She is here to attract Christian to the main plot line of the film, the going-ons at the robotics company. Affleck is aided by several great character actors, including John Lithgow, Jon Bernthal and Jeffrey Tambor. Director O’Connor, who helmed the underrated MMA film “Warrior,” keeps the film moving with strong pacing that never misses a beat.