Movie Review: “The Accountant”
As a child, Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) was diagnosed with an extreme form of autism. He was incredibly brilliant when it came to numbers, puzzles, or problem solving. However, his senses were very sensitive and he struggled to socialize with others, as is typical with people who are diagnosed with this disorder. While specialists saw Christian’s need to go to a sensory friendly school, Christian’s father saw things differently. He believed that the world was not a sensory friendly place, and that Christian needed to learn to live in such a world, as they would not be able to protect Christian from it forever. Thus, afraid others would eventually try to exploit him, Christian’s father trained him in martial arts and forced him to endure extreme sensory stimulation.
As an adult, Christian Wolff works as what seems like an ordinary accountant. However, he also fixes the books for some of the wealthiest and most dangerous criminals. He has just been hired to audit a robotics company after the company's accountant—Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick)—discovers financial discrepancies in the company’s books. Unfortunately, Christian’s work fixing the books for dangerous criminals has not gone unnoticed by the FBI, and a mysterious person at the robotics company has not taken kindly to Dana Cumming’s recent discovery—putting her in great danger.
The Pros & Cons
Ben Affleck (+6pts)
Anna Kendrick (-3pts)
Christian & Dana (-3pts)
The Action (+6pts)
Plot Twists (-3pts)
Pro: Ben Affleck (+6pts)
This character was not exactly a complicated character to play. He does not socialize well, and comes across as fairly emotionless—due to his disorder and extreme childhood. The result is a character that did not convey much emotion. This character could have been what he needed to be with anyone in the role. Any actor could play a cold, emotionless character like Christian Wolff, but Ben Affleck added something extra to the role.
Ben Affleck’s performance made the character mysterious. This was not a demanding or dramatic role, but Ben Affleck’s subtle performance gave this character layers. It made the character a lot more interesting than he would have been otherwise, and made it really easy to buy the character’s secret lifestyle, because Ben Affleck portrayed the character’s mystery effectively. Again, this was not exactly a demanding or incredibly dramatic role, but Ben Affleck did a pretty good job with it.
Con: Anna Kendrick (-3pts)
With Anna Kendrick, you know what you are getting. She pretty much plays the same character in every movie she is in. Now do not get me wrong, her character works well in some movies. Ryan Reynolds is another example of an actor that pretty much plays the same character in every movie, but it works as long as he is cast in roles for which his style fits well. Similarly, Anna Kendrick has a very specific style that works well in certain movies. She works well in comedies and light-hearted movies, but unfortunately, The Accountant was neither.
This movie was an action-thriller, and Anna Kendrick’s character really stood out. She really did not fit with the tone of this movie, and I do not blame the actress for it. You should know what to expect when you cast Anna Kendrick in your movie. You are going to get Anna Kendrick playing Anna Kendrick, which is fine for some movies, but it simply did not work for this one.
Pro: Autism (+6pts)
I did not like that this movie implied that someone with severe autism should ignore the advice of specialists. That being said, I understand Christian's fathers mentality that the world is not a sensory friendly place, and that Christian needed to learn how to live in such a world. It makes you think, and makes you wonder what you would do as a parent in the same scenario. I liked that the main character of this movie was autistic, and I liked how the movie showed that autistic characters—and people—can still do great things.
I am not autistic, nor do I have any close friends or family members who are (so take my next statement with a massive grain of salt), but I thought this movie did a good job of shining a light on the difficulties that come with the disorder. Granted, this is an extremely fictionalized version of those difficulties, but I liked that the film touched on the challenges that come with this disorder, while showing a character overcoming those challenges. Although, if you saw this movie and have any close friends or family members with autism, then please let me know what you thought of this movie—as I am genuinely curious as to what your opinion of this movie would be. At the end of the day, if this character did not have autism, then this movie would have been very typical. However, Christian's diagnosis added a lot to this story, and I think this movie was made a lot more compelling because of that.
Con: Christian & Dana (-3pts)
This may have been partially due to Anna Kendrick not fitting in this movie, but I thought the chemistry between these two characters was poor. Look, I get that Ben Affleck’s character was supposed to have trouble socializing, but there still needed to be some chemistry between these two characters. The actress playing Dana would need to do a lot of the heavy lifting to make the chemistry between these two work, but while Christian had a complete lack of social skills, there still could have been chemistry here if the filmmakers did it right. Unfortunately, the filmmakers did a poor job of getting around Christian’s social issues and Anna Kendrick’s style just did not mix well with Ben Affleck’s character. The combination made for a pairing that felt forced, which made the plot feel a bit weak, because so much of it was centered around these two characters.
Pro: The Action (+6pts)
Based on the trailer and knowing what this movie was about, I was not expecting much from the action in The Accountant. I expected there to be some action, sure, but I assumed the focus would be on Christian living with autism and trying to stay off of the FBI’s radar. That was very much what this movie was about, as the action was definitely supplementary, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much action there was, as well as how brutal it was while it was happening. The choreography was really good, and the action felt brutal, which made for a number of surprisingly entertaining action sequences. The action was not the focus of this movie, but there was plenty of it and it was entertaining while it was happening.
Con: Plot Twists (-3pts)
It is important for me to distinguish this from the overall story. As a whole, I liked the story. It was a bit slow in the beginning, and the overall plot was pretty typical, but the way the story included autism made everything a lot more interesting. The plot twists however, were something else entirely. There were a couple characters shown in Christian's flashbacks, that were later "revealed" in the current timeline. I do not know if these reveals would be as obvious to others, but—to me—they could not have been less surprising.
Grade: B- (84pts)
The Accountant seemed like a pretty typical crime-thriller, but it had a twist. The main character had been diagnosed with autism when he was a child. Christian was extremely sensitive to light, and noise—among other things—but he was always really great with numbers, and had a gift for puzzles and problem solving. We have seen characters like this before—where the main character has a mental disorder of some kind, but is a genius when it comes to certain things. However, this movie had another twist, by making the main character experienced in combat and martial arts.
Ben Affleck did a pretty good job in the lead role. His performance was nothing crazy, but it was effective and made his character interesting. Then there was Anna Kendrick who did what Anna Kendrick does, which works for a certain type of movie, but unfortunately The Accountant was not one of them. Her character felt out-of-place, and it resulted in really poor chemistry between her and Ben Affleck's characters. Then there were the plot twists, which I found to be pretty predictable. Fortunately, there was a surprising amount of action, which was as entertaining as it was brutal. The movie had problems, but it certainly had its strengths as well, which I thought were enough to make it a decent movie.