Certificate 15, 128 minutes
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Stars: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons
The Accountant opens with a largely unseen armed man who, from a voice in the background, probably works for law enforcement, crossing a street in what looks like New York. He approaches a door that has bodies outside and, when he enters, more bodies are found inside. There are also more gunshots and voices, and he follows them upstairs to where a man sounds to be pleading for his life, before going silent. Then a gun is placed behind someone's head and cocked.
The film then goes to 1989 at the Harbor Neuroscience Institute in Hanover, New Hampshire. A young boy (Seth Lee) is solving a jigsaw puzzle (which is, as it happens, face side down) extremely rapidly, whilst his unnamed and perpetually silent younger brother (Jake Presley) watches on. His parents are speaking to the head of the institute about their older son; he has more than a few problems with interacting with other people and being touched. The man says that he doesn't want to label the condition, but it seems likely that the boy has autism to at least some degree, with rituals, body movements and distress when he is unable to complete something. The father (Robert C. Treveiler) is an officer in the U.S. Army, seems more than a little inflexible and instead of having his son stay at the institute wants to toughen him up.
Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Accountant_(2016_film).pngIn the present day, an accountant, Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gone Girl, Runner, Runner) is running ZZZ Accounting - apparently not bothered about phone book business - in a strip mall in a small town 20 miles south of Illinois. The is the young boy from earlier, now grown up. He's better able to interact with people, but his social skills are still not wonderful. He is, however, a very good accountant, and is able to easily help a farming couple to reduce their tax bill. That is, however, not all he is.
At the U.S. Treasury Department, Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), is called in to see her boss, the Financial Crimes Director, Ray King (J.K. Simmons). Medina, after finishing her education, went to work for the police, as an analyst, then Homeland Security, as an analyst, and is now at the Treasury - and still working as an analyst. King asks why she hasn't sought promotion to agent, as she certainly has the skills needed for the job. Then King says that Medina lied on her application to the Treasury, a rather serious crime. Medina had a, supposedly sealed, juvenile record (these records are always ridiculously easy to unseal in fiction). This is something that she failed to mention on her application, and included a whole bunch of crimes up to attempted murder. This would mean that her life with the Treasury is over, and that will be going to jail.
Director King, however, wants Medina to do something for him. He shows her a series of photographs of some rather bad people. In all of them there is someone who is never quite seen clearly, but can be recognised as Christian Wolff. Wolff - although they don't know that's the name he's operating under at the moment, they only know a bunch of prior aliases - is the go-to forensic accountant when criminals, such as arms brokers, money launderers, drug cartels and assassins, want to find out who is ripping them off, and he's really, really good at it. Medina has one month to track down the mysterious accountant in order to save her career.
Chris leads a very orderly life, with everything just so. He takes medication, and undergoes some unusual personal therapy to help him cope with the world. He also has a recreational trailer filled with guns and valuables. This is not your ordinary accountant. He walks into the lives of some of the most dangerous people on the planet, solves their accounting problems - and, more importantly, walks out again in one piece.
As a break from his normal life of dealing with criminals, a woman who is only dealt with as a voice on the phone (whose mannerisms, and accent, are oddly reminiscent of Diana from the Hitman video game franchise), gets him a new, rather less high-risk (supposedly) job in Chicago, untangling the accounts of a tech firm run by Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow). One of the low-ranking accountants at the firm, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), has found some irregularities, and Christian is called in to sort through the accountants. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, a man (Jon Bernthal, Fury) is seen dealing with a situation for some clients. He seems to run some sort of private security organisation that protects the interests of rich clients. He will become more important later on.
The situation at the technology company turns out to be just as risky as some of Chris's more usual clients. Both the man from Switzerland and Medina get involved in the case. In the process Wolff becomes sort of attached to Dana. Who keeps initiating conversations with him, even when he would prefer her not to. He lives alone, works alone and interacts only really with the voice on the phone. There are clips throughout the film going back to the past of young Chris, as his father toughens him up, getting him, and his younger brother, trained in a variety of martial arts, plus Chris's meeting with a black money man, Francis (Jeffrey Tambor), whilst they are both in jail. Bits and pieces of Chris's past are revealed throughout, but it is never fully revealed, leaving him still slightly mysterious.
This is quite a violent film. Wolff is not merely an accountant but a highly trained killer and an expert marksman. This accountant has more in common with Rambo than he does with your typical accountant, although he is an absolute genius when it comes to numbers and seeing patterns. He deals with dangerous people but he himself is extremely dangerous too. There are quite a few action scenes as Christian takes out groups of people who are dangerous themselves, and often well trained too. There are a few twists to the plot that might not be seen coming until just before they are revealed, and there is a constant theme of smiley (and frowny and indifferent) faces cropping up throughout the film. The Accountant may not be to everyone's tastes, and it is certainly violent, but it can get quite gripping by the end and the twists add an extra dimension.