Taking its outlandish concept and maintaining a balance of wit and intelligence, Gavin O’Connor illustrates a sense of faith for his audience with The Accountant, allowing the film to entertain them without pandering in the process. With its sense of humour in check the film utilises Ben Affleck’s stone-cold gaze and considerable physique to the best of their ability, with his character’s inability to recognise general social cues used as both a tool for comedy as well as carnage.
Perhaps in any other film Affleck’s forensic accountant Christian Wolff would be the adversary to a more stock-standard action hero, so it’s a credit to screenwriter Bill Dubuque for creating a complex and highly lethal character and making him a likeable lead. A mathematical savant with high-functioning autism, Wolff hopes to maintain a low profile by working out of a robotics firm in a bid to keep his connections with sought-after criminals a secret. When an error in the books is brought to his attention by low-level accountant Dana Cummings (the always appealing Anna Kendrick), it sets off a chain of events that places the two of them in the crosshairs of an assassin.
Whilst the film sounds as if it will be an action-heavy ride, O’Connor takes his time in getting to any of the set-pieces, instead spending the first hour or so of the film allowing us to get an insight into Wolff by detailing his troubled childhood and brief prison stint where he learned the tricks of the trade by a former mob accountant (Jeffrey Tambor). Once the action does start though the film rarely lets up, presenting a combination of gun-play and hand-to-hand combat that suits Affleck’s slightly detached personality.
In addition to handling the action quota with restraint, O’Connor has assembled a stellar support cast for Affleck to work off, the most prominent being J.K. Simmons as an agent hell-bent on tracking Wolff down and Jon Bernthal as the lead assassin tasked with taking Wolff out; John Lithgow also impresses in an extended cameo of sorts as the head of the company Wolff and Dana work at.
Given Affleck’s comfort levels in the realms of the action genre it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine Wolff as the potential lead for a franchise ala Jason Bourne, and the ending of the film certainly alludes to a greater network assisting him in his missions, but a certain Dark Knight is likely to halt any chance of “The Accountant Strikes Back”. Though the adverts may have pegged this film as something grim and overly serious, the final result is a surprisingly funny and immensely engaging actioner whose pedigree elevates it beyond expectation.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Accountant is in cinemas now