Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is an autistic assassin who cooks the books for international arms dealers; having grown up with an abusive father and a distant mother, Wolff has a gift for mental maths and firearms that makes him a uniquely talented asset for the biggest and most dangerous terrorist organisations around the world. He’s like Jason Bourne crossed with John Wick – who also just so happens to have a degree in bookkeeping.
When Wolff is called in to untangle a myriad of accounting issues uncovered by the sweet-natured Dana (Anna Kendrick) at a high-tech robotics lab, he finds himself torn between his predication for keeping his distance and protecting someone innocent who has dangerous people on her tail. With the State Department’s Ray King (JK Simmons) and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) starting to close in, Wolff begins to realise that this is one job that isn’t as straightforward as previously thought.
Go in expecting a straightforward action thriller and you’ll leave disappointed; The Accountant doesn’t exactly get the blood pumping and most of the headshots are saved for the finale. Instead what we get is a promising, more cerebral premise that is ultimately undercut by a creaky screenplay from Bill Dubuque.
While The Accountant has a lot of good ideas swirling around its head, Dubuque’s screenplay only offers them up in fits and bursts. The film is trying to be too many things at once, from a doomed tale of fractured familial dynamics to a sympathetic yarn about a handicapped man struggling to find his place in society. On top of that Gavin O’Connor’s film stretches to add a multitude of father figures, romance subplots and the occasional fight scene, eventually reaching a point where everything feels undercooked and disjointed. It doesn’t help that the pacing is bone-achingly slow with next to nothing actually happening until nearly 45 minutes into the film.
That being said, it isn’t all bad. Affleck actually delivers a nuanced performance that hits the sweet spot. Neither understated nor overselling it, Affleck gets to flex those bulging bat muscles whilst also capturing the discomfort and sympathetic nature of Wolff’s disability. Simmons and Kendrick are good too, even though they don’t get a lot to work with. Can someone please give Kendrick a role that she can really sink her teeth into? Jon Bernthal, Jon Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor similarly find themselves floating in and out of the narrative without much purpose.
Crisp cinematography from Seamus McGarvey is paired nicely with a minimalist score from Mark Isham, but this lack of flair or panache also adds to the blandness of the whole production.
The Verdict: 4.5/10
Even though The Accountant holds a lot of promise, I found it overlong, fairly dull and regrettably forgettable. There is a better version of this film hiding in there somewhere – but unfortunately not a lot of that potential finds its way to the finished edit.
The Accountant is in cinemas across Australia now
This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out.