Cinema Review: The Accountant

This is one of those Russian doll movies – you keep lifting the lid on one puzzle only to find another within it. It is also the first that I can ever remember seeing in which the super-tough good guy is both autistic and capable of shooting the eye out of a rockmelon (or cantaloupe, as the Yanks so foolishly say) from a mile distant. If my tone is mocking, however, it’s not because I didn’t enjoy the movie – it’s a cracking good cloak-and-dagger (or semi-automatic rifle) adventure, with two genuinely surprising ‘reveals’ at the end. The body count starts in the first scene as we witness a downtown shootout, its cause not made clear until much later in the piece as the narrative is stitched together in what are now mandatory time-jumps. A genius with numbers, Christian (Ben Affleck) is an accountant who cooks the books of multinationals and shady characters from the Middle East to the Far East to the Mexico drug cartels. Interestingly, his violent, entirely mercenary career has been viewed by director Gavin O’Connor through the lens of the nurture v nature debate, as Christian’s dad, an army major, had insisted that attack is the best form of defence in treating the boy’s autism. When Christian is hired by a multinational prosthetics manufacturer (John Lithgow) to identify who is responsible for a long-running embezzlement discovered by a minor employee, Dana (Anna Kendrick), the US Treasury and a mob of killers with enough weaponry to recapture Mosul from IS get involved. The relationship between Christian and Dana might have been more developed, for the pair generate a cute and quirky spark, but romance always takes a back seat to intrigue and killing in this sort of flick. Everybody plays their part to perfection, including the reliable JK Simmons as the jaded government agent nearing retirement and John Bernthal as Brax, the supportive brother with whom Christian has lost touch. There are guns galore, but if you can get past that the story is riveting and the production glossy.

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