Review: The Accountant

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

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PLOT: Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a mathematical savant with high-functioning autism, who works as a forensic accountant. Pulling in big-bucks for his dangerous work un-cooking the books of the world’s deadliest criminals, he tries to lay low by taking what seems to be an honest job working at a robotics firm. Soon, an error in the books discovered by a low-level accountant (Anna Kendrick) puts them both in the cross-hairs of a group of assassins, and the two must rely on Wolff’s deadly skills to survive.

REVIEW: It’s rare that action fans get treated to an A-level, R-rated, studio actioner that doesn’t pull its punches in regards to on-screen carnage, but also boasts a relatively smart storyline that acknowledges genre fans want a little substance. As such, THE ACCOUNTANT is a real treat, as in other hands this could have been turned into a routine actioner with over-the-top action and a dumbed-down premise. Director Gavin O’Connor has enough faith in his audience and the smart Black List-winning script by Bill Dubuque that he doesn’t let that happen, making this one of the best all-around action films of the year.

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Ben Affleck absolutely aces the lead, playing Wolff as reserved due to his inability to understand normal social cues, but also with a moral compass that keeps him from becoming another stone-faced Hollywood killer. In another film, Wolff’s skills would have probably made him the lethal adversary to the more traditional hero, so it’s fun to see a character like this as our lead. The trailers have sold this as grim, but THE ACCOUNTANT is actually quite funny at times, with much of Affleck’s interactions with the bubbly, personable Anna Kendrick played for laughs early-on.

In yet another departure for the norm, following a quick prologue it takes nearly an hour for the action to really start. Instead, O’Connor adopts a unique structure that flashes back-and-forth to different times in Wolff’s life, including his troubled childhood and his stint as a prisoner where he’s taught about “black money” by an imprisoned former mob accountant (Jeffrey Tambor).

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Once the action starts, we get a healthy mix of shoot-outs and hand-to-hand scraps, with Affleck’s use of Silat (the same martial art used in THE RAID) giving the fights a unique look. Affleck’s still in superhero shape here, making him a formidable looking hero. Smartly, O’Connor doesn’t overdo it, pulling us back into the story anytime the action threatens to overwhelm us, making each sequence have more impact. It helps that the supporting cast is especially strong, with J.K. Simmons as a treasury agent bent on tracking down Wolff, John Lithgow as the head of the firm he briefly works at, Tambor, and even “Fargo’s” Jean Smart in a small role. Jon Bernthal also gets a strong showcase part as an assassin whose deadly skills match Affleck’s, paving the way for a good mano-a-mano fight in the conclusion, something so many action films lack these days.

While I have my doubts THE ACCOUNTANT is especially insightful about the autism Wolff suffers from, or that it could give him skill-sets that make him only slightly more vulnerable than Affleck’s Batman, overall this is a super fun ride. It’s the perfect vehicle for Affleck, and were he not so swamped with the DCEU, it could even been seen as a modest franchise starter. It’s definitely a must-see for any serious action fan, and hopefully that audience will turn this into the sleeper hit it deserves to be.


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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.