Classic Movie Reviews

Classic Review: The Accountant (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “The Accountant” which originally appeared here.

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a mathematics savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Using a small-town CPA office as a cover, he makes his living as a freelance accountant for dangerous criminal organizations. With a Treasury agent named Ray King (J.K. Simmons) hot on his heels, Christian takes on a state-of-the-art robotics company as a legitimate client. As Wolff gets closer to the truth about a discrepancy that involves millions of dollars, the body count starts to rise.

This role is quite the departure for Ben Affleck and this was probably the biggest draw for this one. He plays Christian Wolff, a mathematical genius with a liking to numbers more than people. He lives a dangerous life, working as a freelance accountant for criminal organizations. But there is more to him than that if the trailers and the film’s other promotional material are any indication. How that came to be wasn’t exactly the clearest and this was just the beginning.

The film alludes to Wolff’s past life but it doesn’t really explore it at all other than through a lot of exposition through Treasury agent Ray King (Simmons) as he explains him to fellow agent Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). This another of the film’s many dangling subplots where King blackmails Medina into working with him for some reason.

The other method the film uses was flashbacks where Wolff’s father (Robert C. Treveiler) was teaching him and his little brother (Jake Presley) how to live. His father and his mother (Mary Kraft) did not agree about how to raise Chris, causing her to leave them with their father. These were fun to watch but the film didn’t go far enough with them, although there were some parallels, this made it hard to connect the younger version of Wolff to what we see today.

The older version of Wolff does not get along with people and this social awkwardness was very evident through his interactions with people at the CPA office he used as a cover. A lot of his eccentricities were shown in the trailers with the obsessive order in everything, the blowing of the hands, etc. This was okay to watch but didn’t feel as believable as it should have been. Obviously this wasn’t going to last forever or at least someone or something had to come along to get him to see things differently.

This person was another junior accountant named Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick). She spotted an inconsistency in the books of a robotics company owned by a man named Lamar Black (John Lithgow), prompting him to enlist Wolff to help. As he and Dana begin to uncover the truth, they unknowingly become part of a conspiracy. This subplot was confusing as the film didn’t go far into it which made it difficult to understand what was going on. Was it the conspiracy or was it Wolff’s past dangerous clients trying to eliminate him?

The last main character was a man named Brax (Jon Bernthal). His purpose in the film was unclear for the longest time as he appeared to intimidate high-ranking bank or financial officials for unknown reasons as it was unclear as to why he was doing it or for who. So he was just there until he played a more significant role later on. The actual investigation into Wolff by King and Medina was kind of pointless since it didn’t really go anywhere and had little impact on the rest of the plot.

The acting here was okay with Affleck being decent as Wolff but it was tough to see him as the savant type. Seeing him as more of a strong, silent type was weird. What saved him was his prowess in the action sequences and his chemistry with Kendrick’s Cummings. The action scenes were well done with some great choreography but there just wasn’t enough of it. Wolff and Cummings together were fun to watch because of the contrast of their personalities. Wolff’s interactions with others created some funny moments but the best moments came from the two of them. Kendrick was good but she barely appeared in the film. Everybody else was okay too but their characters almost didn’t matter.

Overall, this was a slow action drama with okay performances and a messy, convoluted story.

Score: 6/10

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