The Accountant

The Accountant. 2016. Directed by Gavin O’Connor. With Ben Affleck, John Bernthal, J.K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick.

This genre-blended crime thriller pushes into superhero territory by telling the origin story of an autistic/Asperger’s mathematical savant who is forced to develop an unbreakable code of honour, passable social skills, jiujitsuesque close combat skills and an Olympic level marksmanship ability. As such it has comic book sensibilities, and deviates nicely from the standard special ops/revenge/conspiracy story that takes itself too seriously and too often mirrors every other film in the genre.

The accountant, Christopher Wolfe (Affleck) is the sort of guy who can both save your grandpa that few thousand dollars in tax that will let him keep the farm for another year, and uncook the books for international criminal and terrorist organizations. When a low level employee (Kendrick) catches some imaginative accounting in a major robotics company, Wolfe is invited in and untangles 15 years of fraud in a single night. Wolfe gives notice of his findings and a cleaner (Bernthal) is immediately sent to eliminate the apparent embezzler, as well Wolfe and the innocent employee. Wolfe takes the girl and goes on the run.

Meanwhile the treasury department (Simmons) pursues Affleck for reasons that are not initially what they seem. The Accountant has lots of reveals, not all of them earned. Some you’ll likely see coming from a long way away, others might surprise you.

That said, I quite enjoyed the film and I quite enjoyed the character. There’s only a few jokes, but they’re good and Affleck wrings the laughs out of them. J.K. Simmons gets a great scene. Bernthal is an excellent baddie and more. Kendrick is the sort of happy innocent that must be saved. John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tamboor bring their talents.

I mentioned comic book sensibilities. What I mean is The Accountant is not very believable, but that’s okay. It’s not about “what would happen.” It’s about the emotions and obligations that are bound up with certain archetypal identities and relationships: family, the mentor, the crippled prince, the saviour, the protector, and how a strong code of honour, brutal self-discipline, and long-suffering hope are necessary to navigate them.