Review: ‘The Accountant’ (pray you didn’t lose any receipts)

Counting dollars or counting bullets? Same difference — except for that pesky body count.

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a math savant who loves numbers and finishing what he starts, but he still has trouble relating to ordinary people. With a checkered past a strict routine to cope, Christian’s specialty is finding monetary booking irregularities for shady individuals and organizations, but the real question is why — a question that a senior Treasury agent (J.K. Simmons) wants answered before he retires. Meanwhile, Christian’s latest job draws the interest of a few threatening individuals, but when they target an innocent fellow accountant (Anna Kendrick) for doing the job she was hired for, Christian makes up his mind to close the books… on them.

The first trailers for The Accountant were a brilliant tease; is he friend or foe, good guy or bad guy? The real question is, do you want him in front of you or behind you? We knows there are chases, snipers, assaults, and other violent goodies, but the advertising managed to keep us in the dark and wanting to see more without giving away the goods. What is Jon Bernthal’s part in all this, and who is the meticulous and mysterious handler that keeps Christian one step ahead of both bad guys and law enforcement?

Leave it to Ben Affleck to disappear into another character: a person who can’t feel empathy but who has learned what responses others expect from him. Christian Wolff uses it to his advantage; a lack of feeling makes it easier to get things done, even if he has to take time to think through the consequences later. He isn’t hindered by emotion to the point of hesitation, but it bothers him that he’s like that. Learning the details of the main character’s life that led to the movie’s flashpoint is captivating, edited to perfection by feeding viewers the right information at the right moment. The cast is exemplary, but Affleck kept the plum role for himself.

There are mysteries within mysteries in this film, but clues are everywhere (and too many of which are spoilers to mention). Some aspects may be a bit cerebral for viewers; this is a thinking person’s action thriller, but whether it’s a smart story or fight sequences that you’re after, there’s a compelling mix. One or two elements fall short and a few reveals may seem obvious, but The Accountant is something of a surprise in a box office overstuffed with animated family flicks and superhero hi-jinks. Take a chance… and maybe you, too, will walk out of the theater smiling like a cantaloupe. 🙂

4 Skull Recommendation Out of Four

Speak up, Mortal -- and beware of Spoilers!

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