The Accountant: Jason Bourne Via A Beautiful Mind!

The Accountant

Christian Wolff is a master accountant who uncooks the books for clients varying from mob fronts to cutting edge technology providers. He is also somewhere on the high functioning autism spectrum/scale – which makes his other very particular set of skills somewhat unexpected.

The Accountant takes the mix of Wolff’s (Ben Affleck) set of skills and sets him a task that requires him to use both – a high tech company specializing in cutting edge prosthetics hires him to uncook their books to find out if $60 million has gone missing. The fact of the missing money was spotted by a nerdy junior accountant, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) and Wolf has been hiring to find out if she’s wrong (she’s not).

The film opens with Wolff figuring out loopholes to help a farmer (Ron Prather) and his wife (Susan Williams) rid themselves of a high tax bill. Despite his slightly off-kilter behavior, there’s a connection made and Wolff visits from time to time to hone his shooting skills.


For high end jobs, Wolff relies on Justine (voiced by Alison Wright), an English accented woman on the other end of his cell phone (think Agent Cooper’s Diane but with a voice we can hear). Justine informs him of the job offer from the prosthetics/robotics firm and he pays them a visit – winning them over with his professionalism.

Meanwhile, Treasury Depart head of Crime Enforcement Division Ray King (J.K. Simmons) is looking for the accountant for personal reasons – and coerces (a slightly prettier word than blackmails) one of his top analysts, Agent Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), into working full-time on finding him.

Then there’s an arc where a cheerful assassin (Jon Bernthal) is killing people. Wolff sees him coming out of the wrong house and shadows him but the assassin spots him and takes a shot at him.

The Accountant

Naturally, the high tech company’s books are off by $60 million, but before Wolff and Cummings can finish the job (and Wolff has a thing about finishing jobs – flashbacks give us his backstory at appropriate intervals), one of the company’s top executives (Jean Smart) is executed and the company’s owner/her brother (John Lithgow) tells them they are done.

Wolff and Dana wind up on Cheerful’s kill list and all the players are in place for a rousing final act that would seem very much the same as many others were it not for Wolff’s unique skill set and position in the spectrum.

What Makes The Accountant different is not just Wolff, but the way he connects with people – either via taking on a job (legal or not), or through his natural ability with numbers. He’s working with a beautiful, if nerdy, woman but the only time he feels anything approaching excitement is when he finds her discover was right and the two enthusiastically run through their methodology; he becomes friends with the farmer and his wife through his work on their income tax and the way they let him practice shooting on their farm…


Bill Dubuque’s script is witty and charming even as it’s simultaneously cool and methodical (like Wolff). Wolff’s conversational skills are, to say the least, limited (‘We should go’) and his efforts to blend in are well handled – though he never quite pulls that off, he is certainly aware of the need to try (refer back to those flashbacks for a mentor played by Jeffrey Tambor).

Affleck nails the character so precisely – the discomfort with making eye contact; the sense of not quite occupying the same space as everyone else; the need to finish what he starts; the OCD mannerisms surrounding mundane actions like preparing and eating a meal, or even preparing to fire one of the BIG guns in his arsenal – that he pretty much keeps The Accountant from being an average action film by himself.

Another slight twist that keeps what could otherwise be just another set of action sequences, is that Wolff uses the Indonesian martial art pentjak silat – which we’ve seen in Gareth Evans’ Raid movies.


Of course, when you have J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, Jean Smart and John Lithgow in the movie, you know that the material will be elevated to the next level. The result being that The Accountant takes is unique protagonist and shuffles him from an average-to-good movie to a very good film.

Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) uses a cool palette (grays and blues with some greens) to echo Wolff’s personality (and maybe his need for connections that he can’t quite express) and uses a combination of zooms and tracking shots to make Wolff’s more cerebral work exciting before using many of the same kinds of shots in The Accountant’s action sequences – emphasizing how, to Wolff, working with numbers is almost the same exact thing as taking on a horde of trained killers.

An added bonus is that the film ends in such a way that it could be either Shane riding off into the sunset, or an opening for a sequel should the film do well.

The Accountant is an original enough spin on some well-worn tropes that it deserves to do well enough to spawn a sequel.

Final Grade: A-