Film Review: The Accountant

The Accountant is a silly movie that thinks it is serious, and that’s a shame, because it could have been something really interesting if it had turned into the fun it could of had.

This will be a SPOILER review; you’ve been warned.

The aforementioned Accountant in this film is an autistic man, Christian Wolff, who is not only great at scrubbing the books of world renowned criminals, but is also an expert assassin, if he needs to be. When called in on a job to check the books of a prosthetics company after one of the company’s in house accountants supposedly finds an error, Christian finds himself in some possible trouble after a couple of third parties all magically seem to be right on his tail after nothing happens for the first hour of the film. One of those parties is the Feds, as an on his way out agent, Ray King, blackmails a young agent, Medina, to figure out who this accountant is our else he will expose her criminal record past and put her in jail. The other party, which seems completely random to the plot of the film for at least half its runtime, is another hitman type who is eliminating individuals who end up being tied to the prosthetics company. Before you know it, Christian has to put on those hitman gloves and is trying to fight for his survival against all parties; well, actually just the other hitman, you find out the Feds have nothing to do with this story other than filling in Christian’s back story.

You noticed I slapped a SPOILER warning on the top of this review, well that is because this movie is so off the walls you can’t possibly even begin to describe it without spoiling everything. That’s partially because this movie doesn’t make much sense. Sure, A gets us to B, and so on and so forth, but the script to this thing is just a giant clustercuss. There are like eight different movies going on here and you just wish it would sit back and pick one. Let’s break this down:

-You have the accountant of all the world’s worst criminals movie, but this is barely explored because we have to be able to root for Christian.
-You have the assassin movie where the guy only puts his powers to use to seek righteous revenge or good causes.
-You have the autistic guy trying to operate in the real world movie and the struggle that come with it.
-You have the romance meet cute where the autistic guy learns how to love a woman.
-You have the Xavier’s School for Autistic Children that is churning out potential future assassin accountants that is supporting Christian as his money mover and re-locator. This is a real thing that happens in another big third act twist!
-You have the cop trying to catch that white whale by running the rookie through the ringer to make sure they got what it takes.
-You have the troubled family drama where no one knows what to do with the autistic kid so the father rejects everything, mom leaves, so dad decides to turn his sons into killing machines
-You have the dueling brothers assassin movie
-You have the corporate corruption and intrigue movie where you are trying to figure out who is the one manipulating it all, but you know it is John Lithgow the whole time because he’s John Lithgow.
-You have the autistic guy goes to jail and learns everything there is to know about the international crime accounting game from Jeffery Tambor movie, and masters it in a YEAR!
-Oh, and don’t forget the trained in martial arts in a generic Asian location portion of the film.

This is all in this movie, all of those bullet points are real!

I mean, I might be leaving something out here, but to say this movie is overstuffed is a bit of an understatement. And none of this flows together into some nice blended and beautiful genre mashup. The movie just stops for 10 to 15 minutes at a time to become something else. Oh, I forgot, the movie become A Beautiful Mind for about 5 minutes; the score even changes and tries to sound just like Ron Howard’s film.

Gavin O’Connor directed The Accountant and I don’t know how he came in and just decided to roll with what was on the page. Or maybe he tried to throw in all these other elements, I don’t know, either way it doesn’t work. The editing in this film is just atrocious, there is no rhythm and flow to the thing. Made most obvious by the film pausing to have J.K. Simmons tell us his life story and fill in the background of Christian right before the big finale. The film grinds to a halt for 15 minutes for this, and a passing of the torch to Medina as the film informs us that not only are we delaying the finale, but we are letting you know that the Feds will have nothing to do with it as they failed to figure things out. Is this setting up a sequel, I don’t know! O’Connor gets a couple good action beats in there at least, but even on that front it is a bit lackluster at times.

Ben Affleck stars as Christian and is actually pretty good in the middle of this smorgasbord of badness. He plays the autistic parts well, sells the humor and can easily handle the action of the picture. Christian could have been a great character to watch run around and kill people in between doing their taxes, but O’Connor and company take everything way too seriously, like they are worried they are going to offend someone. Anna Kendrick pops up for the film’s romantic comedy segments, but she has nothing to do and has some horribly clichéd dialogue to spout off. At least she has chemistry with Affleck, but the age difference between the two is a bit disconcerting; about as much as it is that she doesn’t realize Christian has a disability?

The aforementioned J.K. Simmons is solid, as you’d expect, but his protegé, Medina, is horribly written and cannot be saved by Cynthia Addai-Robinson who gives a truly horrendous performance. She is just unwatchable as she hits all of the stereotypical detective beats and puts on this monotone voice that contributes to her character showing no emotion whatsoever. It doesn’t help that we are forced to watch her go through the most obvious detective steps while we are under the assumption that she is the last person left to try to figure the accountant out. It isn’t revealed to be a test until that big Simmons monologue scene near the end of the film so we are stuck sitting there thinking, “Really, no one has tried this before?” Over and over again. It’s all unwatchable when it comes to Medina. I wanted to laugh out loud at how stupid it all played.

Jon Bernthal plays the other hitman guy, and when it is revealed in the final fight that, TWIST, he is Christian’s fellow assassin trained brother, this is where I actually laughed at how stupid this has all gotten. In the right movie, this would have been an amazingly fun and campy twist, but here, the film just pulls this out of nowhere and plays the moment so emotionally, until it doesn’t and tries to land a cheap joke. John Lithgow’s character also might be the dumbest in the film, especially during the finale, but why did he need to hire an international assassin team to take his company public? All these people getting killed wasn’t going to be suspicious, no matter how much you made it look like an accident. Did I mention this film is a mess?

The Accountant is not a movie you should go into expecting anything remotely good beyond Affleck. That said, it could be a really great so bad it’s good watch for you and a group of friends, but you should wait to watch it at home so you can laugh as loud as possible at how ridiculous it all is. Still, the movie held my interest, in a what the fuck is going on kind of way, but I would never recommend you watch it unless you are into that whole watching a trainwreck sort of thing.

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