LF Reviews: The Accountant
Written by: Michael Mytrunec
As seen in the September 2017 Lazy Faire issue
A recent UK survey listed accounting (yes, accounting) as the most attractive profession for men. The Accountant, directed by Gavin O’Connor, should add “exciting” to that sentiment.
The Accountant opens with an action scene that would appear more at home in a trailer for Grand Theft Auto than a movie about crunching numbers. Christian Wolff, the main character played by Ben Affleck, is depicted storming through a house of mobsters and sparing nobody inside. Early on it becomes apparent that the film’s title is a façade, as the focus is on action rather than transactions.
The screen instantly cuts to a flashback depicting a scenario from Wolff’s childhood. These flashbacks are sprinkled throughout the film and give insights into how Wolff’s upbringing and environment influence and explain his actions. We learn that Wolff’s father is a rigid man in an environment that should be flexible: an army officer who neglected the opportunity for Wolff to spend a summer with an autism specialist because “if loud noises and bright lights scare him, he needs more, not less.” Wolff’s high-functioning autism is referenced throughout the film as both the cause of his difficulties with social interactions and the catalyst for the diligence and focus that makes him such an effective financial consultant. As the film says, “He is not less than, he’s just different.”
We immediately learn that The Accountant is a man on the run, that his former clientele range from the mafia members to Mexican cartels, and that he sheds aliases and flees town on a dime. His pursuit by the US Department of the Treasury is concurrent with that of a hitman named “Brax,” whose mercenaries force Wolff to abandon his latest cover as a small town CPA and take on a project for a Chicago tech firm. It is here that Wolff unearths a financial fraud that digs him deeper into the world of hit men and dark money. Drama, plot twists, and action ensue with enough flair to satisfy the most die-hard James Bond fan and sufficient financial intrigue to please those who prefer corporate bonds.
Overall the film is entertaining, the idea is different, and the plot requires a referral to audit.
The two hour runtime is wholly imperfect in that it feels too long to keep the viewer consistently captivated yet too short to dive into the side plots and auxiliary characters whose details only skim the surface. The intense attentiveness that the main character demonstrates would be an asset to viewers who want to grasp the entire film in a single sitting.
The idea for the film was refreshingly different coming from a movie industry that revels in familiarity. If you are tired of remakes, reboots, and sequels, The Accountant is worth a watch. That said, Wolff could be characterised as an action hero who happened to be an accountant, rather than a blend between the two, which leaves one wondering whether his profession was a gimmick to set the film apart.
Lastly, I feel compelled to commend the director for writing off the “boring accountant” stereotype that permeates pop-culture and creating new connotations of intrigue and allure. If my accounting classes appear extra full this fall, Gavin O’Connor will be to blame.
If anyone was expecting IFRS they would have been let down; however, unexpected action and excitement are assets in my books. Watch it once if you want to enjoy a movie, twice if you want to understand the movie, and three times if you’re procrastinating that cash flow statement that is due tomorrow.