“The Accountant” seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster

52nd Annual New York Film Festival - Opening Night Gala - "Gone Girl" - Inside Arrivals
As I wrote about earlier this week, Ben Affleck is a pretty huge star in Hollywood, and rightly so. He can often command the screen, and later this week he has another star vehicle to showcase just that. It’s The Accountant, a slightly high concept shoot em up that has Affleck both in hero mode as well as serious actor mode. It’s an odd mix, one that sort of works, but also sort of doesn’t. It’s worth seeing if you like silly action flicks, though it can be a bit frustrating because of the effective drama put on display as well. Through it all though, Affleck shines.

The film is an action thriller centering on Christian Wolff (Affleck), a seemingly mild mannered accountant. Christian suffers from autism, though he’s high functioning and has a much different skill set from others on the spectrum. You see, his father also trained him to be a brutally efficient killer. So, while he has a front at a storefront CPA office, he also un-cooks the books for all sorts of unsavory and dangerous individuals. A legit job puts him into contact with Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), who provides a human interaction, but also raises the danger level when she’s targeted for assassination. Soon, he has her on the run while he tries to figure out why killers are after them, led by an odd one in Brax (Jon Bernthal). Through it all, the government, fronted by Treasury agent Ray King (J.K. Simmons) is closing in. It all gets ridiculous in the end, but it does mostly satisfy. Gavin O’Connor directs a script from Bill Dubuque. Also on hand in the cast are the likes of Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jason Davis, Seth Lee, John Lithgow, Jean Smart, Robert C. Treveiler, Andy Umberger, and more. Seamus McGarvey lenses, while Mark Isham provides the score. There’s a surprising bit of talent on display here, even if not everyone is fully utilized.

Having seen it last night, I can report that this is a fun, if very silly, action flick. Affleck especially grounds this in a form of reality, at least in terms of his character’s condition. The plot machinations are dumb and often nonsensical, so there’s no realism there, but the lead does his part. O’Connor is a hit or miss filmmaker, and this showcases his best and worst tendencies. The movie never seemed like an awards player or anything like that, and I can confirm that it won’t be in contention. It’s just popcorn cinema, aiming to please you on a completely base level. In that regard, it’s definitely passable. Just don’t expect anything that will rock your world.

Once more (and updated to include this film), here’s how I would rank Affleck’s best performances to date:

1. Chasing Amy
2. The Town
3. Good Will Hunting
4. Gone Girl
5. Argo
6. Hollywoodland
7. Boiler Room
8. Shakespeare in Love
9. The Company Men
10. Jersey Girl

Honorable Mentions: The Accountant, Bounce, Dazed and Confused, Dogma, Man About Town, and State of Play

Overall, The Accountant is this weekend’s action offering, which might be enough for some. It hints at a slightly fuller meal with the quieter character moments, but mostly just retreats back to the safety of cinematic gunfights. I liked it more than I didn’t, and really enjoyed Affleck’s turn. I doubt anyone will fall in love with this flick, but I also doubt that anyone will really hate it. It’s very imperfect, but there’s a flawed charm that pulls you through to the finish line. With expectations kept properly in check, one can easily have a good time with this film…

Be sure to check out The Accountant, in theaters everywhere on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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