At the very least, the new financial (?) thriller The Accountant is a huge step up from star Ben Affleck’s diminishing returns from last March’s disappointingly mediocre Batman V Superman. Affleck was the best thing about that bloated mess, and The Accountant keeps him on the plus side of the ledger.
That was an accounting term, I think. I did take some accounting classes in college but they were way too wearisome and dry. The same cannot be said for the movie The Accountant. It’s an above-average thriller that rarely missteps, and more entertaining that any movie with the word “accountant” in the title has any right to be.
Look at all that math!
Christian Wolff (Affleck, doing a version of Rain Man and Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting, but more homicidal) is a high functioning autistic who happens to be a brilliant accountant. He mixes legal boring work with un-cooking the books for criminal organizations like the Chileans, major drug cartels (the bad ones, not the kind and gentle ones you‘re used to), the Gambino crime family (this is an actual name from the movie, as if screenwriter Bill Dubuque thought “generic Goombah gangster name” and “Gambino” popped in his head). Chris is smart enough to realize that dealing with these criminals could lead to a short shelf life, but he’s kept himself alive and functioning for so long that he’s almost legend.
Chris is also wanted by soon-to-be retired Treasury Agent King (Oscar-winner JK Simmons), who has pictures of Chris’ head and Chris’ back hanging out with really wanted criminals and underage nannies. Unfortunately, no one can get a clear picture of Chris’ face.
Agent King assigns/blackmails newbie Agent Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to find out all she can about this mysterious accountant.
Because, as King keeps on pointing out, he’s going to retire in a couple of months. This usually means that Agent King will be so very dead by the time the movie is over.
As part of his legitimate work, Chris is hired by a robotics company magnate Lamar Black (John Lithgow) to determine where a $61 million shortfall came from right before the company goes public. A young accountant Dana (Anna Kendrick, in a non-singing role for once), noticed the gap and is willing to help Chris with the numbers.
I’m guessing most accountants don’t look like Ben Affleck. Or Anna Kendrick for that matter.
But Chris don’t need no help. With numbers, that is. He needs a lot of help socially, because Dana ignites in him the desire to connect with another human, something he hasn’t wanted to do for a long time.
In a montage involving T-Bar equations, boxes and boxes of markers, a lot of fluorescent lighting, and accounting terms that sound like it could put someone in a coma, Chris finds the department where the shortfall originated.
We the audience are grateful we didn’t have to sit through any actual accounting.
Hours later, Chris comes to finish his work (he really doesn’t like to leave his work undone) but finds all his work being erased and Lamar gives him a check for his work. It turns out the person possibly suspected for skimming the money died the previous night under mysterious/convenient circumstances and Chris’ services are no longer needed
But now killers are after Chris and Dana, making this the most exciting thing to ever happen to accountants in the history of history.
What Works With The Accountant
- The mere possibility that being an accountant could involve so much intrigue and danger should have millions of moviegoers want to be an accountant. Then quit after a couple of semesters once they realize how life-draining, mind-numbing and tedious it is.
- No. I have no experience in this. Why do you ask?
- Ben Affleck gives a solid deadpan performance as the autistic Christian, generating more laughs than you’d expect from, we’re saying this again, any movie with the word “accountant” in the title.
- A sequence in a farm features some of the best sustained action (efficiently directed by Gavin O’ Connor) of the year, climaxing with something your local accountant probably wouldn’t/couldn’t do for his/her favorite clients.
What Doesn't Work With The Accountant
- A 3rd act twist that defies logic, sense, and everything else you’ve previously seen keeps The Accountant from being great to merely being very good. It’s one of those plot points that doesn’t make sense in the moment and makes even less sense the more you think about it.
I was going to try to use some clever accounting jargon to convey The Accountant is a good movie and you should see it but I fell asleep midway through writing this sentence and didn’t wake up until 6 hours later. So…
The Accountant is a good movie and you should see it.
Buy The Accountant Here!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Noel Penaflor
Rachel M Johnson on July 25, 2019:
I really enjoyed The Accountant and was honestly surprised at how much it captured my attention the whole way through. Ben Affleck did a phenomenal job.
Pat Mills from East Chicago, Indiana on July 16, 2019:
I agree with Michael and would like to recommend both Up In The Air and 50/50 as films where Kendrick didn't sing or appear in a Twilight movie. Since The Accountant, I would also recommend A Simple Favor in the same vein.
Michael115 on July 16, 2019:
Pretty good review! This movie was pretty good for a movie that involves an accountant and so many numbers. Ben Affleck is one of the best actors alive today and if he keeps giving us performances like in The Accountant then I am certain he will bring even the worst movies up a notch with his presence alone. Keep up the good work!