Review: ‘The Accountant’ Has a Puzzling Plot That Doesn’t Add Up
Movies| | By Robin Milling
The Accountant begins in the middle of a grizzly shoot-out before suddenly we are transported to 1989 at some kind of behavioral science institute. We meet a young boy who can piece a puzzle together in minutes, but freaks out when he can’t find the last piece to complete it. When a fellow patient retrieves it from the floor all is right with the world again. The boy has sensory issues – problems relating to other people.
Cut to years later and there is a bespectacled Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff, an emotion-free accountant sitting across from a couple trying to explain in layman’s terms how they can fudge their taxes.
Next we meet J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) as Ray King, a salty head of the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division. With seven months left before he retires, he hands an assignment to a federal recruit (Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Star Trek: Into Darkness) with a criminal record on one condition – she discover the mystery man known as ‘The Accountant’ who is behind years of “uncooking the books” for the most notorious crime organizations.
Sounds confusing? Well it is! This original and extremely ambitious screenplay by Bill Dubuque (The Judge) has more intertwining plot lines and untwisting segments than a Rubik’s Cube. Like the beginning scene, we are left to puzzle together who Wolff is, why he behaves the way he does – meticulously adjusting his eggs and bacon on a plate before he eats, and why he has a hidden arsenal tucked away in a storage room. The only thing that’s obvious is Wolff is not who he appears to be.
Is he a math savant who also happens to limelight as an undercover hitman? He practices his sniper shooting skills smashing cantaloupes with smiley faces perched on a fence miles away.
We do know his next assignment is with a corporation called Living Robotics, hired by a steely financial officer Rita Blackburn (Jean Smart). Wolff must comb through years of books in search of missing money. He says to Blackburn as she recounts the betrayal, “you’re angry,” without moving a facial muscle. An accounting clerk played adequately by Anna Kendrick who is brought in to assist him challenges his lack of personal connection. Also in the mix is Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Daredevil), menacing as a hired corporate killer.
Affleck is interesting to watch as he deadpans his way through the dialogue, but you’re left hoping he will bust a move and kick some butt. Finally, Affleck delivers in an impressive belt vs. knife tete a tete, and taking down a bevy of bad guys coolly and calmly one by one.
Director Gavin O’Connor shines in the action arena, noted in the mixed martial arts of Warrior. He put Affleck through his fighting paces.
“We discovered a style called Pentak Silat, an Indonesian style of fighting which was very cinematic, kind of flashy but very efficient which matched the character,” said O’Connor at a Los Angeles press conference. “When we honed in on that our guys just started training Ben.”
Things begin to take shape when we realize through flashbacks who Wolff is and the motivation behind his proficient fighting skills. But by then we are too busy doing the math and connecting the dots wondering how all the far-fetched puzzle pieces of this film fit into place. In the end, The Accountant just doesn’t add up.
The Accountant opens nationwide October 14. Watch a clip from the film below.