The Accountant casts Ben Affleck as Christian Wolfe. He a savant whose specialty is mathematics. As a front, Wolfe has a small accounting office in a strip mall. His real business is helping criminals and criminal organizations, and it’s made him a fortune.
Wolfe is now in the sights of the U.S Treasury’s Crime Enforcement Division. The division director — played nicely by J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) — and an underling focus on finding and apprehending him.
While that’s happening, Wolfe takes a contract from a robotics firm. Someone is embezzling and cooking the books, and the management wants to know who. The discrepancies were found by a mid-level accountant Dana Cummings, played by Into the Woods and Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick.
John Lithgow plays Lamar Black, who owns the firm. When his best friend and others in the company are targeted by unknown killers, he pulls Wolfe from the audit and sends him packing. One of the targets is Cummings. Wolfe — who is also a martial arts expert, an assassin and a dangerous guy — steps in to protect her.
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And then there’s the mystery and Wolfe’s inability to stop looking when finding an accounting miscue.
Competent — even compelling — acting dots the movie’s landscape. Affleck, Kendrick and Simmons are impossible not to like. That’s true whether they’re villains, good guys or something in between. Here, Affleck and Simmons fit the in-between definition, and Kendrick’s good guy is a wide-eyed innocent.
All three are wasted in writer Bill Dubuque’s (The Judge) screenplay and director Gavin O’Conner’s (Warrior) movie. An even worse waste is Lithgow, who is better at doing all three character types than his co-stars.
Also wasted is the concept of a savant who’s not only an accountant, but a kind of an action hero. That’s unfortunate, because other than a nice and unexpected twist at the end, and like actual mathematics, The Accountant offers few surprises. As the story progresses, predictable problems multiply, and there is a division in the ranks of the characters. When the facts start adding up, a few characters are subtracted.
While I don’t mean to offend readers who do this for a living, accounting is not the most action-packed profession in the world. It’s a good career, but it’s not all that exciting. That pretty much sums up The Accountant. It makes a pretty good accounting of itself, and the numbers add up, but not much more.
Director: Gavin O’Conner
Stars: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, John Lithgow, Jon Berenthal, Cynthia Addi-Robinson, Jean Smart
Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Pasco 12 and Queensgate 12, and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.