Ben Affleck’s third film of 2016, The Accountant finds him playing Christian Wolff, a self-described high-functioning autistic, with incredible math abilities and even better skills with a gun. He can process years’ worth of corporate ledgers in a single night without a computer and shoot a sniper rifle with perfect accuracy. It’s all in a day’s work. As it turns out, Christian Wolff is only one of many aliases this man of mystery has chosen from a list of history’s influential mathematicians. Chris uses his gifts as math savant, working as a forensic accountant for global criminal syndicates.
Through flashbacks, we learn that Chris’ father, a psy-ops officer in the military, rejected traditional autism therapy in favor of toughen him up. He sent him to train with various specialists who specialized in various ways of killing people, including long range sniper fire and an Indonesian martial art called Pencak Silat. It’s little wonder his mother left the family!
Chris lives alone, subjecting himself to a timed round of sensory overload each night as a former of practice, before allowing himself to get comfortable. He has a mysterious handler helping him out on the phone, which makes you think he just might be helping out the good guys despite evidence to the contrary.
Director Gavin O’Connor takes his time revealing a backstory, interspersed with flashbacks, likely because it doesn’t make a lot of sense. When the U.S. Treasury Department gets wind of Chris’ activities, the head of the Crime Enforcement Division, Ray King (J.K. Simmons), wastes no time blackmailing agent Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) into helping him do something he could have just asked her to do. That part of the storyline seems unnecessary anyway and never really goes anywhere. Besides, forget the blackmail and The Accountant gas a good backstory already, involving familial dynamics and a father determined to help his son cope with a world that won’t always understand him.
In an effort to go straight, Chris is hired by Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow) to find out who’s stealing money from his company. There, he meets winsome CPA Dana Cummings (Anna Kentucky) who has unwittingly become entangled in a corporate scheme. Eventually though, Chris’ interactions with her let you know that he wants to reach out in a personal way, but isn’t able to. However, Chris is able to be the hero and save her from a would be assassin.
About two-thirds of The Accountant makes for an average action movie before it goes off the narrative rails. Ben Affleck looks good in conservative business attire, donning a pair of wire-rimmed glasses and managing to just avoid eye contact with all his co-stars. Anna Kendrick does that cute thing she does so well; it’s just a shame she disappears for long stretches of the film. J.K. Simmons does the best he can with some middling material, John Bernthal is solid as an elite hitman and Jeffrey Tambor turns up in a brief role as a white-collar con in a high-security prison.
Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Warner Bros. transfer is a solid one. The image appears sharp. I noticed only slight softness in a few wide-angle shots. No print flaws are in evidence. The color palette leans toward orange, teal and amber, which are all reproduced nicely. Blacks are appropriately inky and low light is used to a positive advantage.
The DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack serves the film well. Appropriately involving, gunfire, explosions and other action set pieces come to life. Music is given over to the entire soundfield, while dialogue, placed in the center channel is clean and clear throughout.
English SDH, Spanish, French and Portuguese subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Inside the Man (HD, 10:38) Director Gavin O’Connor, writer Bill Dubuque, producer Mark Williams and Lynette Howell Taylor, production designer Keith Cunningham, and actors Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, John Lithgow, Jon Bernthal, and J.K. Simmons offer comments on the production process, the characters and the film.
- Behavioral Science (HD, 8:04) Gavin O’Connor, Ben Affleck, Bill Dubuque, Education Spectrum Director of Clinical Services Laurie Stephens and others discuss autism and how those traits manifest in the film.
- The Accountant in Action (HD, 7:14) Ben Affleck, Gavin O’Connor, Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams, Jon Bernthal, stuntman Thayr Harris, armorer John Harris, stunt coordinators Fernando Chien and Sam Hargrave, and actor Jefffrey Tambor discuss the stunts in the film.
- DVD copy of the film.