The Hippo


Apr 26, 2019








The Accountant

The Accountant (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

By Amy Diaz

A man with near-superhuman mathematical and focusing abilities gets tangled up with the finances of all flavors of sketchy characters in The Accountant, a strange thriller starring Ben Affleck, still in Batman mode.

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck), not his real name, is an accountant who spends his days encouraging low-level tax embellishment to not terribly exciting clients out of his strip mall office.
Or so it appears.
But, as Treasury agent Ray King (J.K. Simmons) explains to analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia  Addai-Robinson), the same man has had different names and appeared in surveillance photos next to shady international types at locations across the globe. He isn’t just an accountant, he’s an accountant who can look at criminal, laundered-money enterprises and figure out where missing money went and who took it. He has the secrets of drug cartels, terrorist types and others, and King wants to pin him down. He doesn’t have a current alias or location, so Medina starts by doing research on the names he used in the past and listening to the audio tape from a mass shooting the man was involved in.
Meanwhile, Christian takes what his handler describes as the rare job for a legitimate client. He’s been asked by a robotics company, whose work includes military contracts and prosthetic limbs, to examine a cash flow discrepancy found by junior accountant Dana (Anna Kendrick). 
The company’s founder, Lamar Black (John Lithgow), doesn’t seem concerned about the finances, but his sister (Jean Smart) and the company’s CFO (Andy Umberger) seem very suspicious about what Christian plans to do. Clearly somebody is rattled by his presence; a highly competent hit man (Jon Bernthal) and his thugs are killing people with a connection to the company.
Thus do we have a situation with three groups on the hunt: Medina and the Treasury agent for the accountant, Christian for the financial wrongdoing and the killer for, eventually, Christian.
And then, jammed in like a too-big rolling bag in an already crowded overhead bin, there is a romantic subplot featuring the Anna Kendrick character. This bit of dramatic luggage definitely could have been stowed for the duration of the flight. The only good reason I can think of for crafting a relationship for these people is to give the usually not-so-talkative Christian a person to deliver exposition and explanation to.
The Accountant suffers from “and also” syndrome. And also Christian’s secret identity as accountant to the criminal underworld. And also his adult backstory. And also his childhood backstory, with its explanation of how his father taught him to live with his autism-related difficulties and abilities. And also the shady killer coming after anyone who knows anything about the accounting trouble at the robotics company. And also the treasury agent. And also Medina. And also her backstory. And, hey, it’s Anna Kendrick. That is a lot of “and also” — probably about 35 percent more story than was needed. 
And this is not a movie that had a lot of room to mess around with unnecessary story. It runs over two hours and you feel that long runtime. It jumbles humor and suspense together in a way that never quite clicks — I, other people in the theater and sometimes all of us laughed at beats I’m not entirely certain we were meant to laugh it. It holds a few big reveals until its final moments but they seem disingenuous. I think we’re supposed to feel we’ve just been on a twisty ride but instead I felt like the movie was gluing “surprises!” into its plot to cover holes and general weakness. 
That said, The Accountant was stylish. The visuals it used to explain Christian’s personality —the sparse arrangement of things, in particular — were interesting even when the story happening in these settings was only mildly attention-holding. 
Also, I kind of enjoy this Affleck, who is basically a variation on the Batman he’s done in the last two DC Comics movies. Barely restrained violence? Yes. Laser focus on tasks? Check. Ability to outfight infinite henchmen? Yep. The only difference is that this wrong-side-of-the-law avenger has an Airstream trailer and a pickup truck instead of a Bat Cave and a Batmobile. And hey, now that I think about it, the not-quite-skilled mix of humor fits too.
The Accountant isn’t bad, as grown-up thrillers go, but it also doesn’t do anything all that exciting or even stay with you much beyond the theater parking lot. C+
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout. Directed by Gavin O’Connor and written by Bill Dubuque, The Accountant is two hours and eight minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros.

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