Starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons, Jon Bernthal, John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor, Cynthia Addai-Robinson
Prior to “The Accountant”, Gavin O’Conner had only made one film of note; 2011’s “Warrior” which landed Nick Nolte a supporting actor nomination. “The Accountant” has been swirled in secrecy, skipping film festivals, withdrawing from pre-screenings. Unlike “The Girl on the Train” which dodged its way into a wide release, Affleck’s latest dark thriller packs an unusual punch. It requires patience from the viewer but like an onion, Bill Dubuque’s script peels the layers to this complicated character. The majority of the film spends time setting up backstory, merging plots and understanding the psychology of the character. This is the Bruce Wayne figure we wanted to see in “Batman v. Superman”.
A high functioning form of autism prevented Chris from a normal childhood. Abandon by his mother, raised by his strict military father, Chris and his brother were forced to learn survival skills. As an adult, Christian Wolff (Affleck) appears to the outside world as a stable accountant, running a small private business in the suburbs of Chicago. A mathematical genius, Wolff is hired by a robotics firm to investigate the claims of junior accountant Dana Cummings (Kendrick), that a large sum of money is missing. Meanwhile in Washington, the outgoing treasury director Raymond King (Simmons) wants the identity of the mysterious accountant who has ties with numerous high profile foreign criminals. He assigns analyst Marybeth Medina (Robinson) to uncover this man’s identity before his retirement.
This is the Bruce Wayne figure we wanted to see in “Batman v. Superman”.
“The Accountant” has a lot of information to cover that isn’t always compelling or entertaining. An audience anticipating an action film might be disappointed as the two- hour film only contains two scenes with exchanged gunfire. Instead viewers will be surprised by the dark sarcastic humor. The first time “The Accountant” leans into violence and action, it’s surprising, edge of your seat stuff that changes the pace and structure of the movie. There are striking similarities to the Bruce Wayne origin story, in which Affleck has been consumed with for the last couple of years. A correlation with Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne can and will be made, but O’Conner’s film is far more about nuance than the defunct “Jason Bourne” saga.
The use of flashback here is one of the more successful. Often an impediment to the flow, pacing and structure of a thriller; Here the casting of child actors Jake Presley and Seth Lee in an intense family situation are perfectly timed flashbacks that reinforce present day. Affleck continues to excel (typecast) as the violent brooder. The lack of dialogue lends to the internal struggle Affleck is engaged with for this role. “The Accountant” enthusiastically advocates this form of autism can be harnessed as a super power (think X-Men). While the structure of the film is highly unusual and uneven, it mirrors that of the character. Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect”) is the films weakest link emotionally and narratively (similar to the way Katie Holmes stuck out in “Batman Begins”). The closure of the film is both articulate and highly suggestive of a franchise which would do this surprising, slick, and original film a disservice.
Lends an element of surprise to nearly every aspect of the film.