“The Accountant:” an intriguing story of murder, numbers


Editor’s Note: The grading system used here is similar to the 10-point scale used in SDSU courses.“Do you like puzzles?”


The characters in “The Accountant” ask each other this question multiple times throughout the course of the movie, always posed right before an interesting plot turn or an important character detail is revealed.

Eventually, I came to realize this entire film was just one elaborate jigsaw puzzle — a jigsaw puzzle that’s surprisingly entertaining while you’re piecing it together, but one you easily forget about after you’ve assembled it.

Overall, “The Accountant” is a B-level action thriller, full of complex characters, decent action sequences and intriguing conversations about moral dilemmas. 

But it’s an action thriller that doesn’t propel the genre forward and one you’ll likely forget about after it’s assembled in front of you.

The film centers around an accountant named Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) who is, to put it mildly, a criminal psychologist’s dream patient.

He’s the type of guy who owns exactly one set of kitchen silverware, but an arsenal of guns, knives, explosives and other dangerous toys.

In the first scene of the film, we are introduced to the lead character as a child when Wolff is diagnosed with a form of high-functioning autism. This is presented as a problem for his parents. But his military father ultimately sees the autism in his child as an asset rather than a hindrance to military combat training.

Wolff and his younger brother are put through exhausting and often torturous combat training by professionals until Wolff becomes a man who’s able to shoot a cantaloupe from a mile away and take out a team of special ops men in under five minutes. 

He’s employed by a secret network that sends him to work tracking stolen money for criminals — drug cartels, arms dealers and other nefarious organizations.

As a break from routine in his less-than-legal second job, he’s given a new, seemingly much safer assignment investigating the financial shortcomings of a state-of-the-art robotics company about to go under. Of course, this new job is far more dangerous than he first thinks and things go haywire, especially after old ghosts return to visit.

One of these is a Treasury agent, Ray King (J.K. Simmons), who blackmails an aspiring analyst in the Treasury Department, Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), to help him find Wolff.

There’s also Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), who works in the accounting department of the robotics company Wolff investigates. The character largely serves as a potential love interest for Affleck’s character and Cummings draws the accountant out of his shell over the course of the film.

All performances given in the film are OK, but Affleck’s performance as the autistic accountant really stands out. 

However, there were several times I called into question the ethics of allowing Affleck to play someone with the developmental disorder.

Supposedly the character has difficulty with eye contact because of the disability. In the theater of the screening I attended, a woman behind me whispered to the man with her, “For a guy who’s not supposed to have much eye contact with other people, he’s definitely doing a lot of it.”

The action sequences in the film are fairly standard for a Hollywood production. Some of the camera work hindered the view of the hand-to-hand combat, but overall, the scenes were engaging until the bloody end.

The film’s theme focuses on the choices characters make and especially those made in the past. This is why much of narrative of the film seems to split focus between what happened in the past and what is happening in the present.

At times, the past seemed more interesting and I was captivated to see how Wolff was raised. But for me, there was equal interest in how Wolff’s past would force him to make the next move in this jigsaw puzzle of a film.

Is “The Accountant” a necessary theater viewing? 


But for fans of the suspense/thriller genre, Ben Affleck and, yes, even accounting, this film is something you might want to check out in a multiplex.

Before deciding to watch, just ask yourself: “Do you like puzzles?”

Ian Lack is an advertising major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]