Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a mathematical genius who is more empathetic towards numbers on a spreadsheet than people. Using a small-town CPA office as cover, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the planet’s most cut throat criminals. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, headed by Ray King (J.K. Simmons) closing in fast, Christian decides to work with a legitimate client for a change. It’s a robotics company where an accounting clerk has seen a anomaly involving millions of dollars. As Wolff uncooks the books, the body count starts to increase.
What do you get when Batman, Frank Castle and J.J. Jameson are in a movie together? The outcome is Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant. Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman) was once a controversial name. It still is in some circles but he’s getting some really good projects. He’s one of those actors who you either love or hate and the name itself sparks many fierce debates. The film is also starring J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and he plays Ray or J.K. Simmons (himself). Jon Bernthal (Daredevil) plays Brax. John Lithgow (The Crown) plays the movie’s unexpected antagonist and he plays a mighty good one.
“Define normal” is a quote that is echoed throughout the movie and our perceptions of normality are constructs created by a society to define people who think and do things differently. Society has made us scared of the unknown and those who set themselves apart from the majority. Anyone who doesn’t follow society’s rules and norms is someone to be feared and not to be associated with. Christian Wolff is an autistic child and a maths genius who is a prime example of that. The skills thrust upon Wolff (Affleck) include things like sharpshooting and martial arts, a decision made by his father. His father was an asshole but he knew what people were like and that his son would never be accepted for who he is. People fear what is different and he didn’t want to take that chance with his son.
Director Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) succumbs to the common trait of every maths movie; having a scene with writing on the wall…or window. Wolff is a recluse and a loner who lives a life of solitude. So basically, the stereotypical nerd who has no friends. So it was quite amusing when he makes a brief connection with Dana (Kendrick) and they nerd out together about the million dollar question. Affleck is great in the role and there are many moments when the nerd breaks Wolff’s poker face and suffers a little smile. But then at others, he’s cold, calculating and unreadable. He’s Sherlock in a Jason Bourne-esque role. Yes, this is an action thriller but it’s smarter than your mindless Fast And Furious-esque plots. The acting is incredible and so is the storyline, ending with the plot twist to end all plot twists.
I was very impressed with film. From the acting to the cinematography to the musical score, it knocked me for six and then some. Rather than being John Wick on crack, there are a number of backstories that add another dimension to the characters. Wolff’s father was abusive and that’s putting it kindly. But what he instils in his sons is what helps flesh them out in their adult lives. It’s no secret that the world is run by international corporations and criminals. The 1%ers have sway in political systems and will manipulate systems and policies to avoid accountability if and when they get caught.
The writers connected with the audience on many stages, including through: love, devotion, family and friendship. They created emotive images of what families will do for their children, if pushed to the limit. Despite the nature of the movie, it is possible to find something beautiful in the ugliness of what the father did to his sons. The brutal action scenes concocted with family tragedy and moral ambiguity make for a thought-provoking turn of events. This is something I was not expecting from the movie. It gets to a point where you begin to sympathize with Christian and to put yourself against the US government, thus painting the ugly corporate government as the villain and the ruthless yet sensitive Christian as the hero.
Overall, this is an engaging crime thriller that uses its all star cast to perfection. It uncooks the books of our society, showing us snapshots of the good, the bad and the outright ugly. Each of us has the ability for great or great evil, and those are relative concepts within themselves. Gavin O’Connor’s “The Accountant” shows us not everything is at it seems and all it takes is one bad day.