The Accountant (2016)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 5/28/17
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow

"What's the plan?"
"Find the person who wants to kill her, and shoot them in the head."

I'd heard a lot of praise about this film, including several sources that likened it to "John Wick" (2014), so I decided to check it out. It's definitely a mixed bag of action, thriller, and character study that the director likes to call "a puzzle film." Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a man with Asperger's Syndrome, who puts his unique mental talents to work as a forensic accountant. He's also an extremely proficient fighter and an exceptional killer when the situation calls for it. Wolff is hired by the CEO of Living Robotics (John Lithgow) to check out their accounting records when a young junior accountant named Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) discovers a discrepancy. It turns out that millions of dollars have been siphoned out of the company, and pretty soon people start ending up dead. Lithgow makes the mistake of removing Wolff from the project before he's allowed to finish it, which disrupts his strict routine and ability to function. As a result, Wolff becomes a loose cannon, as well as a target for the bad guys who are pulling the strings in the background. He also has to rescue Dana, whose life is in danger because she knows too much.

I've seen schizophrenic action movies like this before, and they tend to have more heart than sense when tying to balance action and drama. What I really wanted was a straight forward action film with a highly efficient protagonist, like John Wick or Frank Martin in "The Transporter" (2002), but this one goes a bit too far into the autism spectrum for comfort. Wolff's character is purposely unrelatable, although he finds a kindred spririt in Kendrick's socially awkward and mathematically minded Dana. The action scenes are nicely executed, and Affleck does a convincing job of being a high precision shooter as well as a strong and efficient silat fighter. The performances are very good across the board, but it's J.K. Simmons who steals the show with a shockingly heart-wrenching delivery that comes out of nowhere. Very impressive work. While the production is excellent and the film hits all of the right notes, it just didn't gel for me. Maybe the overly serious-minded drama caught me offguard and was more than I was mentally and emotionally prepared for, or maybe Affleck's performance reminded me too much of Matt Murdock in "Daredevil" (2003). Or perhaps there just wasn't enough of the impishly cute Anna Kendrick to keep me interested in between action scenes.