Film review: The Accountant

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By Andrew Harbison, CA Today

28 October 2016

Andy Harbison reviews The Accountant, an action film where the numbers don't quite add up.

The plot of The Accountant is a fairly straight forward, and, at times predictable one. Ben Affleck takes on the role of Christian Wolff, a CPA who works out of a small office in Plainfield, Illinois. We soon find out that this is merely a front, as he moonlights as the money man to the world’s most dangerous criminal gangs.

When the Treasury department begins investigating this mysterious character, known only as “the accountant”, Wolff takes on a legitimate client to divert attention away from his shadowy dealings.

We first see Christian during a flashback as a young boy sitting in the corner of a therapist’s office, as his parents try to understand why their son is “different”.

It becomes clear that he suffers from a severe form of autism, causing him to have next to no social skills, but making him a savant when it comes to number and problem solving.

These flashback sequences crop up quite regularly throughout the film. Some are helpful as we learn how Christian managed to become somewhat of a martial arts expert and precision sniper, but many of them are needless. With a running time of over two hours, most of these scenes could have been cut at no harm to the already weak plot, as they do little more than slow the pace of the film.

The legitimate client Christian decides to take on is a multimillion dollar company which produces robotic limbs for amputees. With the company haemorrhaging money, and an insider suspected of stealing it, Christian begins to un-cook the books to identify the source of the financial bleed. This is where we are introduced to Dana (Anna Kendrick), the admin assistant who discovered the losses.

It is here where the only actual ‘accounting’ takes place, as Wolff sifts through thousands of earning reports and invoices in one night, sans calculator, trying to solve the mystery of the leak. But when he and the Dana get closer to the answer, people start to get hurt.

Enter an ensemble of faceless heavies who try to make Christian and Dana ‘disappear’. It is here that the film goes all out-action flick.

The action sequences, especial the hand to hand combat scenes, are well choreographed. Christian deals with enemies with cold and brutal accuracy.

The film boast an impressive supporting cast of veteran actors including the Oscar winning J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), but they are completely side-lined to give more screen time to Affleck and the poorly written and forgettable villain played by Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead).

The attempt at an on-screen “romance” between Anna Kendrick and Ben Affleck’s characters, although unconvincing, does provide some of the films surprising laughs.

Verdict: 2/5

This is a film which is incredibly unsure of itself. It tries to be part financial thriller and part macho action extravaganza. The result of this attempted genre splice is that both elements are much weaker than they may have been as a standalone feature.

Action fans will appreciate this film more than those looking for a sophisticated thriller. If only there was more on international accounting standards...


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