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article imageReview: ‘The Accountant’ doesn’t make a mistake in adding up its assets Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Oct 16, 2016 in Entertainment
‘The Accountant’ is a slow-burning, intense thriller about a man of many conflicts who must use his talents to save his life.
The old saying goes, “Do what you love, love what you do.” Having a passion for one’s occupation can make a job not feel like work. Conversely, sometimes enjoyment can be gained from being the best rather than fancying a particular vocation. Sometimes one just gravitates to a certain career because they have a natural talent for it. And sometimes it’s simply the most logical choice given the circumstances. In some ways, the protagonist in The Accountant checks all of these boxes.
Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a private accountant and math savant who specializes in matters of extreme discretion. He’s been recruited by a number of criminal organizations to examine their books and identify any improprieties – and he does so, regardless of the size of the task, in a matter of days. While law enforcement is aware of his existence and interested in the intelligence he undoubtedly has, they don’t know his identity. On the brink of retirement, the head of the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement division, Ray King (J.K. Simmons), makes a Hail Mary play and assigns new recruit Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to track down “The Accountant.” Feeling the heat, Chris takes on a legitimate job for the founder of a robotics company (John Lithgow) where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) found a multi-million-dollar discrepancy. But this job turns out to be even more dangerous than working for the mob.
This is a solid action film that probably won’t receive much attention in spite of its excellent cast and compelling script because it's somewhat slow-burning and doesn't have explosions at regular intervals. Yet it’s incredibly intriguing, and puts a rare and surprisingly captivating spotlight on mathematicians. Of course Chris is unique since he's also a lethal weapon and goes on a couple of killing sprees throughout the narrative. Nonetheless, it all starts with a room he manically and methodically covers in debits and credits in order to resolve the case of the missing millions. But his efficiency sets off a deadly cover-up, which requires quick thinking and matched force if he and the innocent clerk are to make it out alive. Thus audiences watch as Affleck, a.k.a. Batman, effortlessly disarms and kills his opponents, even when he's grossly out-numbered… and Kendrick proves the toilet lid is still a great weapon in a pinch.
The action elements are supplemented by a variety of flashbacks to Chris’ adolescence. As a child, he was diagnosed with autism (though they didn't really have a name for it then). His military father refused to accept his “weakness” and spent the next several years ensuring he'd be able to live a “normal” life. With conditioning, training and medication, Chris is high-functioning; but the cost to his mental health may be more than anyone realizes. Living off-the-grid and in seclusion for a decade has taken its toll. Some may feel the backstory interrupts the narrative flow, but the information it provides for Chris’ character development makes him well-rounded and more interesting than the average action star.
Affleck adequately portrays his character’s ticks, compulsions and breakdowns, but the heavier lifting in that department is left to Seth Lee who plays the younger Chris. Instead Affleck excels in a relatively subtle performance, and in the precise and mechanical butt-kicking scenes. Kendrick is always a breath of fresh air in any film, and her warmth helps humanize Chris and add a little humour to the story. Lithgow makes a great visionary, while Simmons has the despondent yet commanding cop down pat. And Jon Bernthal plays the leader of a mercenary/security group that’ll do just about anything for the right price, which isn’t unfamiliar territory for the actor.
This is a great addition to the killer-with-a-moral-code thriller genre with an even better final twist that’s nearly impossible to predict (no, not that one that you can see coming long before the reveal; the *last* one).
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons
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