Ben Affleck has a knack for picking film projects that are polarizing. For every “Argo” there is a “Pearl Harbor”. Affleck picks amazing projects that highlight his acting or directing talents or mediocre blockbuster fare that pleases the masses. This strategy has worked for him as of late and with the release of “The Accountant”, Affleck tries his hand at picking a project that could be the best of both worlds for him.
“The Accountant” is the story of Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck), an unassuming accountant that runs a small firm in a strip mall in Anytown, U.S.A. Wolff is good at what he does, so good in fact that he has been “cooking” the financial books of some of the most powerful political figures, CEO’s, and terrorists around the world. Wolff is a one man operation, but is assisted by a “voice” that helps him acquire his work. Wolff is no typical accountant, he is a cold and calculated soldier trained in hand to hand combat, a firearms expert, and is a superior mathematician. Above all these, what makes Wolff unique isn’t his skills, but his autism. His autism has given him the focus to do all these things and do them well, but his past and his present are on a collision course with his next assignment.
“The Accountant” can be an engaging film to view. Affleck does great work as Wolff, you really believe that his “accounting” keeps him focused and the world and the people around him could be a detriment to his goals. When the movie focuses in on the story of this character and the supporting cast that surround hm is when it succeeds. Affleck is joined by Jon Bernthal as Braxton, a hitman who works on the opposite spectrum from Wolff and his intentions become closer to Wolff, in more ways than one, during the climax of the film. J.K. Simmons is Treasury Dept. agent Raymond King, King is intent on bringing Wolff to justice. He is aided by Marybeth Medina played by Cynthia Addai-Robinson, whom he’s grooming for his position. John Lithgow is Lamar Blackburn who hires Wolff to find out who has been skimming money from his organization Living Robotics. Finally, Anna Kendrick plays Dana Cummings, an employee of said company, caught up in the middle of the chaos. All these disparate parts make for a compelling story that you’d like to wrap your head around, but sadly character development and the thrilling nature of the plot take a back seat to crowd friendly action set pieces, while exciting, undermine what director, Gavin O’Connor had been building toward.
“The Accountant” got caught up in being all things to all people and when you do that, as we know, you please no one. There was a decent idea to be mined here and with a cast as good as this it should have been. By the time we come to the finale and the revelations of the story threads are exposed they are silly, at best, and just further confirm that Affleck as action hero was what the filmmaker wanted to leave the audience with as opposed to the more interesting angle of Wolff dealing with his autism and the highs and lows that go along with living with it in his line of work. “The Accountant” should’ve stuck to the financial book “cooking” and left the guns at home, ironically this would’ve made for a more thrilling and suspenseful movie going experience.