The Accountant Movie Review
The Accountant, like its lead character, has many strengths but struggles to emote them. Ben Affleck turns in a fine performance as an anti-social, autistic accountant/assassin and the movie itself benefits from its unique premise, but the low-energy, awkwardly paced thriller never hits its stride and then implodes in the final act.
Affleck plays Christian Wolff, a loner and math savant who is hired to uncook the books of a pre-IPO robotics company. But when he uncovers that millions of dollars are missing, he and another woman (Anna Kendrick) become the targets of a deadly security squad--what they don’t know is that he is a trained assassin who can more than fight back.
I really, really, really wanted to like The Accountant. The trailers are awesome, the premise is interesting, and director Gavin O’Connor, while he’s had some misses, has also had his hits (namely the underseen Warrior). And for much of its runtime, The Accountant comes close to being extremely enjoyable.
It. Just. Never. Quite. Gets. There.
At two hours and eight minutes long, the movie feels 20 minutes too long. The Accountant is never boring, but nearly every scene drags in an odd way; you can see all the right ingredients on screen, but they never mesh into something that is truly kinetic. For a while, that’s fine. O’Connor takes his time establishing Affleck’s interesting character and setting the scene for what you assume is going to be a shit-hits-the-fan second half. When Wolff flies into motion, shooting people’s heads off from a mile away or taking baddies down in a way that would put Jason Bourne to shame, the movie rocks. But just when you think O’Connor is going to ratchet things up a notch, he pulls back, effectively killing the pace.
The movie, written by Bill Dubuque (The Judge, another movie that is almost really good but isn’t), also pretends to be smarter than it actually is. Even when a federal agent (J.K. Simmons) is literally explaining the plot to the audience, it’s hard to follow, convoluted and full of holes. You want to go, “Oh shit!” but instead you’re left saying, “Huh?”
Or worse: “That’s it?”
Dubuque and O’Connor pack a lot of unnecessary stuff into the movie, or at least go in the wrong direction. While Affleck is solid--every movement, expression and line of dialogue is calculated and delivered in an effective way--and Kendrick is fine, the film completely wastes J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson in a throwaway side plot that contributes nothing to the movie (seriously, what do they accomplish during the movie? Why are there even federal agents in this story at all? What are they celebrating at their press conference?). And the (spoiler) reveal of Brax’s (Jon Bernthal) identity is not only impossible-not-to predict early on, but it completely diminishes the potential for a satisfying finale. Don’t even get me started on John Lithgow’s pathetically uninteresting character (another waste of talent).
Had the filmmakers tightened up the story, properly incorporated the federal agent investigation (or dropped it entirely) and decided on a consistent tone (is it serious? Is it funny?), The Accountant would have been a balls-to-the-wall good time. As is, it’s a disappointing thriller that is almost good. Almost.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.