“There’s no business like show business, but there are several businesses like accounting” – David Letterman
The good news is that the audience doesn’t need to know a lot about accounting to enjoy The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck as “Christian Wolff” who appears to be a small-town CPA who has an office in a small storefront next to a laundromat and a Chinese restaurant. But like everything else about this film, penned by Bill Dubuque (The Judge), there is more than meets the eye here.
Wolff is one of several aliases that this accountant has used over the years. One of two sons born to an Army colonel (Robert C. Treveiler) and his wife (Mary Kraft) they learn that “Chris” has autism although he is able to function at a high level in spite of his condition. Offered a chance to place their son at the Harbor Neuroscience Institute, where they specialize in treating children like him, his father turns down the opportunity. He’s convinced he can teach his son what he needs to know to cope with life.
The adult Chris is a brilliant accountant who runs his small practice as a front for his real business, working for some of the world’s largest criminal enterprises as a forensic accountant. It is a major need for them as a cartel or crime family can’t just hire one of the Big Four accounting firms to see who has been stealing their ill-gotten gains. But at the behest of “The Voice” an unseen woman who is Christian’s support system and protector, he decides to take on a legitimate client.
As Christian is going to work for Living Robotics, run by “Lamar Blackburrn” (John Lithgow) and his sister “Rita” (Jean Smart), there is trouble on the horizon for Christian. In Washington, D.C., “Ray King” (J.K. Simmons), a high ranking member of the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) is aware of the existence of someone who is doing that accounting work for major crime organizations and he wants to crack this one last case before he retires. He co-opts “Marybeth Medina” (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), an analyst with strong skills and a checkered past to help him discover the identity of the mystery man who shows up alongside so many criminals in photos taken from a distance.
Wolff is at Living Robotics because a junior accountant named “Dana Cummings” (Anna Kendrick) noticed something in the accounting records that indicated someone was doing something untoward. They’ve hired Wolff to find the “leak” and he definitely does. Other than the fact that events after the discovery have Christian and Dana on the run from those behind the leak and from Ray and Marybeth, the rest is best left to be seen on screen.
The best parts of this film are its strong cast, its technical accuracy about the weapons and the hand to hand combat, which is based on the Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat. It was the 2012 popcorn flick The Raid: Redemption that first showcased internationally how this particular martial art could be used so effectively in the action genre. The Accountant also uses sound quite well, particular the sounds of the weapons being used.
Director Gavin O’Connor put together an extremely talented cast and they take what might have been just another action movie to another level. Ben Affleck gives an inspired performance as the savant who struggles to function but manages to do it well enough that few would suspect the nature of his affliction.
Hire The Accountant for two hours of film fun.