The Accountant: Affleck plays the world's most handsome & deadly nerd
Posted October 14, 2016
Updated October 15, 2016
2016 has been the year Ben Affleck has quietly reminded us that he is a pretty good actor. It started with his stellar portrayal of an older, emotionally detached Bruce Wayne in the otherwise forgettable "Batman v. Superman." “V” not “vs.,” of course, because this movie is about the Supreme Court case that made it legal for superheroes to vote.
This week Affleck is back in theaters as a math savant with the trust of the untrustworthy in The Accountant. This is the kind of action movie that comes out in the fall - not dumb enough to be a summer blockbuster and not smart enough to be a sneaky Oscar contender, but slightly more intriguing than the garbage that gets relegated to the early months of the year.
Good gravy, that doesn’t sound like I liked "The Accountant" at all! I did. It’s just that I liked it in the same way I liked "John Wick" and "The Equalizer." The more outlandish action sequences and narrow escapes got past me rolling my eyes and into a sweet spot I like to call “the giggle zone.”
"The Accountant" is told partly in the modern day, where Ben Affleck’s character Christian Wolff is an accountant with connections to all kinds of criminal organizations. He’s who the bad guys call when they need to make their money look legit.
The story is also told in flashbacks where we see Christian as a boy whose autism drove a wedge between his emotionally fragile mother and his disciplinarian father.
There’s also a side story about the Treasury Department agent (Whiplash’s JK Simmons) who has assigned a young field operative (Arrow’s Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to find out who Christian really is before the Treasury agent retires. I don’t want to go too much into this story, because it reveals what is supposed to be a big twist in "The Accountant."
What I will say is there are long stretches of the movie where filmmaker Gavin O’Connor (Miracle) completely forgot about this story. If the point of "The Accountant" is to set up "The Accountant 2: Still Crunching Numbers," then I would say that the Treasury Department deserves a little more attention. If not, then this story could have been erased entirely.
Speaking of storylines that could have been erased entirely, let’s talk about the actress that gets second billing in "The Accountant" - a woman who somehow manages to look like your mother’s weird, younger friend and the sexy every woman at your office, Anna Kendrick.
She’s not particularly good in this movie, but that is almost entirely not her fault, because again, we get only a half developed storyline here.
See, Christian (if that is even his real name! *GASP*) has a handler that we never see. She finds him jobs that pay a whole lot of money. Actually, they pay very little money and then he is given a gift of like 60 gold bars or an original work of art from some world renowned genius.
So Christian’s handler tells him that she found a job that is above board at a robotics company where a large amount of money has gone missing from their books. The error was discovered by Anna Kendrick, so now she and Christian are working together, and, slowly, she is teaching him to laugh and love.
During that process, there are a lot of scenes of Christian doing math on windows with dry erase markers, because, if Ron Howard taught us anything in "A Beautiful Mind," it is that the cinematic tell for being a mentally ill genius is doing math on a window with a marker.
Christian discovers the money is missing, gets an inclination as to why and then he and Anna Kendrick, whose character name may have been Anna Kendrick (and even if it isn’t, that’s what I will continue to call her in this piece), become the targets of some very bad men.
Here’s the thing about Anna Kendrick’s role. This could have gone to some actress you’ve seen in a lot of commercials but hasn’t had a feature role in movies or TV yet, like Lily from AT&T! The role is largely inconsequential. Maybe she is supposed to help us see that there is a regular guy hiding inside of every insanely handsome autistic man, but her aspect of the story is boring.
Give me more killing and more math on windows!
Demetri Ravanos is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has reviewed movies for Raleigh and Company, Military1.com and The Alan Kabel Radio Network.