review//THE ACCOUNTANT

Grade: A-

THE ACCOUNTANT
Directed by Gavin O'Connor
Starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K.Simmons

Going in with low expectations, Gavin O'Connor's The Accountant is a autumn surprise. It's smarter than the action movie it wants to be deserves, but it's more extravagantly stunt-heavy that its brains would generally deliver. Highlighted by a subtly different Ben Affleck performance, and some great, bizarre third act twists, The Accountant is a lot more fun than it appears.

Affleck stars as mathematician Christian Wolff. Through a series of flashbacks, Wolff's childhood reveals a stunted rearing from an overbearing Army dad and an absent mom. Added to the mix is Wolff's own quirks as an autistic child. Fast-forward to the present, Wolff's day job finds him doing taxes for local residents in his small, Chicago suburb while also contracting out through big corporations to uncover miscalculations in the accounting books. On the surface, he appears to be nothing more than a numbers man. But, behind the curtain, Wolff is a nihilistic hero with an incredible shot. All of this twists and turns around a government agency trying to lure Wolff in, while Wolff uncovers a deeper plot that has him and his newfound damsel in distress in trouble.

The script is quietly driven with laughable quips throughout, including even some late term action film one-liners, delivered in an honest way that keeps them from appearing overly cheesy. The characterizations ride the line from generic to interesting, with Affleck's Wolff obviously getting the most study. Anna Kendrick shows up as Dana Cummings, a young accountant at the large technology firm at which Wolff is brought in to do some investigating of the books. When the two uncover a larger plot involving money laundering, Cummings' safety becomes Wolff's focus.

J.K. Simmons is Ray King, the soon-to-be-retired government agent on Wolff's tail. Instead of offering anything new, this is classic Simmons, which isn't anything to scoff at. It's still fun to see him politely rage in the perfect dad-like way. We also get great turns by Jon Bernthal, John Lithgow, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson, a relative newcomer getting her first major, noticeable role.

Artistically, The Accountant is sharp-looking, with crisp cinematography and a clever pace, keeping even the slowest of scenes moving. O'Connor, most notable for Warrior and Miracle, isn't new to sophisticated adrenaline-driven films. Where The Accountant falters, O'Connor's slick direction elevates it into a higher, more prestige level.

The Accountant isn't the type of movie to be remembered come Oscar day, but it's smart enough to capture the minds of a broad audience, packing plenty of punches along the way. Should it do well at the box office, there will undoubtedly be some attempt at a Christian Wolff franchise.

Rated: R
Runtime: 2h 8min

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