Release date: 4th November 2016/Watch the trailer here
‘Do you like puzzles?’ It’s a question that is asked throughout The Accountant, and it’s a fitting one: for the true satisfaction of the film doesn’t come until right at the very end, once all of its pieces have been slotted into place.
Ben Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, the titular accountant with high-functioning autism and a greater affinity for numbers than people. Under the cover of a small-town CPA office in Illinois, he works as an accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminals before taking on a legitimate client in the form of a cutting edge robotics company where one of its employees, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), has discovered a discrepancy in the books involving millions of dollars.
Although it perhaps takes a little too long to find its feet, as soon as it transpires that Christian is just as skilled in combat as he is with maths and numbers, The Accountant becomes a smart, stylish action movie, bolstered by a refreshing concept and some surprising moments of dry humour throughout.
Frustratingly, however, the film is ground to a halt more than once by the somewhat pointless presence of two members of the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement division, Ray King (J.K. Simmons) and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who are hot on the heels of Wolff. Far too much time is dedicated to the motivations of these characters who do very little to advance the plot; it’s a shame that an actor as talented as Simmons has been relegated to a role whose only purpose is to provide a convoluted backstory for the accountant in an exposition-heavy scene that runs on for much longer than it needs to.
For the most part, though, The Accountant is anything but frustrating. It delights in taking unexpected directions throughout, from thankfully veering away from an unnecessary romance subplot to a highly rewarding conclusion and the numerous plot twists that accompany it. Similarly, the action is counterbalanced with a welcome emotional backbone and some surprisingly touching moments, while Affleck’s performance gives nuance to a character that easily could have felt outlandish with the wrong actor.
But above all else, The Accountant is a puzzle; a live-action brain teaser, creating a world that becomes more and more engrossing with each twist and turn, and a film that is every bit as intelligent and rewarding as it is thrilling and entertaining.