Madness abounds in “The Accountant,” an intense, intricate, darkly amusing and action-infused thriller that doesn’t always add up but who cares, it’s BIG FUN.
The next time Ben Affleck runs into his old “Hunting” mate Matt Damon, they could have a legitimate debate about Affleck’s Christian Wolff vs. Damon’s Jason Bourne, covering at least three main points:
1. Who would win in a fight? They’re both crack shots, handy with all manner of weapons, masters in the art of hand-to-hand combat and fast healers when sustaining injuries that would mean lights-out for mere mortals.
2. Who has the more obviously symbolic name — Jason Bourne (Again), who has to reinvent himself time and again, or Christian Wolff, a seemingly mild-mannered accountant savant who also is arguably the most dangerous killing machine on the planet, aka a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
3. Which one of these deeply troubled, always-on-the-move loners with serious father-figure issues would require more time on the therapist’s couch?
I’d call it a toss-up on all three fronts.
Affleck, a genuine movie star who has never been the most expressive of actors, puts his deadpan, tightly controlled charisma to perfect use as Christian. He’s autistic but on the highly functioning side of the scale: a genius accountant with math skills out of “A Beautiful Mind,” capable of taking care of himself, but lacking most basic social graces, obsessed with completing tasks, dependent on heavy doses of medication and susceptible to seizures.
Christian hides in plain site as a CPA with the ZZZ Accounting Firm in a strip mall in Plainfield, Illinois. He drives a truck, lives in a simple home with a nice backyard, keeps to himself — and waits for calls from a British-accented woman, who gives him his next assignment “uncooking the books” for the highest-level criminal organizations around the world.
Sometimes Christian’s work involves moving tens of millions of dollars around. Sometimes it involves taking out some seriously bad people.
He’s not just an accountant. He’s … THE ACCOUNTANT.
The invaluable J.K. Simmons is the obligatory law enforcement veteran on the verge of retirement, in this case, one Ray King (the names in this movie!), the legendary head of the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division.
For the better part of a decade, Ray has been trying to learn the true identity of The Accountant. He enlists the help of Agent Marybeth Medina (an excellent Cynthia Addai-Robinson), essentially blackmailing her into finding The Accountant or face the consequences of her checkered past.
Anna Kendrick is smack dab in the middle of her acting comfort zone as Dana Cummings, a whip-smart accountant at a biomedical robotics firm who notices a serious discrepancy in the books, which leads the head of the firm (John Lithgow) to bring in Christian to go through 15 years of insanely complicated ledgers to dig for possible malfeasance.
“The Accountant” is at its best when Christian is outsmarting all the other smart people, taking down henchmen and interacting with Kendrick’s Dana. The big-picture plot is wobbly and at times flat-out nuts; all of a sudden we’re in “The Usual Suspects” territory, but few films can match the mastery of that beautifully spun tale.
But it’s immensely satisfying. Just about everyone gets what he or she deserves, in more ways than one.