by Miles Barber (CE ’18)
The Accountant tells the story of Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck), a forensic accountant with a unique upbringing as a result of his autism; his father had Christian and his brother Braxton trained in numerous forms of combat to be able to defend themselves against the inevitable bullies Christian would face. Now an adult, Christian uses his training and aptitude for math to do accounting for drug lords and crime bosses, trying to keep his identity a secret. Still, he’s been photographed near his clients, which attracts the attention of Raymond King (J.K. Simmons) at the Treasury Department. If that weren’t enough for Wolff to worry about, his current accounting job at a Robotics Company is proving to be quite a puzzle.
The result is a thoroughly entertaining film with plenty of twists, a fair amount of mystery, and even some humor. The humor is mostly from Christian Wolff’s awkwardness, which Ben Affleck perfectly executes. Beyond this entertainment, however, The Accountant doesn’t have all that much to offer for a few reasons.
The first is that the story is a bit too complicated for its own good. Even without the flashbacks to Christian’s upbringing, this film would still be struggling to keep its narrative as simple as possible. So it should be no surprise that parts of this film consist almost solely of exposition, most of which comes from Raymond King. In fact, if you removed this Treasury Department storyline from the film, I don’t think anything would change—more reason to believe that it’s only there to reveal critical information to the audience.
That leads to the biggest problem with the story: it’s just not creative enough. The Accountant had a good enough premise but doesn’t really deliver a good story. With more focus and attention to certain scenes, this film could have been great. The writing just couldn’t come up with better reveals for the twists in the film and couldn’t execute some of its best scenes. What could have been a really suspenseful thriller centered on a mysterious character became a standard film that explained everything to you instead.
Still, The Accountant was entertaining. It featured a good performance, some surprising humor, and effective action. The story was a little muddled and the film should have found better ways of revealing information, but I still had a good time watching this movie. I just wish it had lived up to the potential I’m sure it had. ◊