The quick and easy five-word description of The Accountant is “Rain Man meets Jason Bourne”, but that doesn’t even begin to get to the heart of the film. Ben Affleck is Chris Wolff, a high-functioning, savant-like autistic with mathematical skills that make him an ideal candidate for, well, accounting.
But he’s not content to just sit in a quiet office and do people’s taxes. Instead he sells his services to the world’s worst people with the world’s biggest incomes─drug kingpins, mob bosses, and the Taliban among them. But he’s also a an expert marksman and drop-dead butt-kicker, capable of taking down virtually anyone with a couple swift punches and a quick shot to the head.
The Accountant is a deep, dark, psychological thriller with a slow burn reminiscent of George Clooney’s The American and Brad Pitt’s excellent Killing Them Softly. Exquisitely written by Bill Dubuque (The Judge), it’s a non-stop guessing game punctuated by slick fight choreography and rock-solid performances across the board.
When Wolff is hired by high-tech robotics CEO Lamar Black (John Lithgow) to investigate a chunk of missing money, it doesn’t take him long to figure out the culprit. But at the same time, a nasty hitman (Jon Bernthal) is on the same case, and the body count starts rising quickly. Complicating matters is the company’s junior accountant Dana (Anna Kendrick), who quickly finds herself both drawn to Wolff and also a target at the same time.
Director Gavin O’Connor, who was behind the camera for 2011’s fantastic Warrior brings the same level of talent to The Accountant. Working from Dubuque’s stellar script and with the help of cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (who also did November’s highly anticipated Nocturnal Animals), O’Connor deftly segues the film from quiet, simmering drama to knock-’em-out action flick. As dark as The Accountant is there’s actually a decent amount of desert-dry humor, too, giving the film yet another dimension.
Affleck is at the top of his game, and he carries the film with a nuanced, reserved performance. Kendrick, Lithgow, and the always reliable J.K. Simmons as the Treasury Department chief tracking down Wolff, also do excellent work.
The Accountant is one of those films that requires a particular taste. It’s a thought-provoking, often-terrifying and never-dull experience that may well go on to be one of the most underrated and under-appreciated films of the year.