On paper, this movie may seem much stranger than it actually is. A man with autism becomes a forensic accountant who moonlights as an assassin. That feels like a pretty lame description of the film because the premise is handled fairly well. What we really get with The Accountant is a solid character study that disguises itself as an action flick. Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is the titular accountant who is being hunted by the Treasury Department, led by Raymond King (JK Simmons) and Agent Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) after he is linked to a number of terrorist groups.
This is a story stacked with twists, turns, and a surprising amount of fleshed-out characters. In most action movies, you know the good guy and you know the bad guy. Here you spend a lot of time with everyone, and it pays off. It also helps that every character is inhabited by a well-seasoned actor. Since Ben Affleck has turned over a new leaf, he’s been solid as a director, writer, and actor. He is exceptional here taking on a challenging role, and something very different from what he’s done before. I can’t personally speak to how accurate his portrayal is, but my wife is an occupational therapist (who works with kids with autism on a daily basis) and she said the representation of autism in the film was spot-on. So take that however you like. JK Simmons and John Lithgow are always worth watching, and there’s no changing that here. Both Anna Kendrick and Addai-Robinson are great, adding more to their characters that what was on the written page. The standout to me was Jon Bernthal as a somewhat security consultant. Bernthal has been excellent in everything I’ve seen him in, but he gets to be much more charismatic than he has had the chance to be recently.
Director Gavin O’Connor gave us the fantastic UFC film Warrior back in 2011 and he does some outstanding work here. He clearly knows how to stage a tense and stylish action sequence, getting flashes of John Wick with a couple of combat scenes. Action is fairly new territory for him and I was glad to see him stay away from quick-cuts and CGI, relying more on real-life stunts and letting the choreography do its work. He’s got a great physical front man here in Affleck, making the fistfights feel more realistic.
It’s not a perfect film, but it’s a very entertaining one, delivering more than just satisfying action. There is an exposition dump that comes at the beginning of the third act that feels like a bit too much, but I was too invested in the story at that point for it to bother me. Most of the film serves to give us more insight into Affleck’s character and I didn’t find a boring section in the film. It has a sense of humor, intriguing characters, good story, and some great action. Most people will enjoy this film.
Runtime: 2 hours, 8 Minutes