For sheer novelty value The Accountant scores points: not only is the action hero a Certified Public Accountant–he’s also autistic. It’s an intriguing idea at first. The boy’s military father practices “tough love” bullying—and how to fight back. Affleck grows up to be a C.P.A., better with numbers than he is at connecting with people or making small talk.
Meanwhile, Treasury Department crime chief J.K. Simmons gives one of his top agents (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) the task of tracking down a mystery man who is seen in a handful of photos with some of the top mobsters and drug dealers in the world. It turns out to be Affleck, who is with them because he’s cooking their books. His cover is an accounting office in a strip mall in suburban Illinois.
Then the plot thickens considerably. Affleck is approached by a representative of a cutting-edge robotics company (John Lithgow) where a low-level accountant (Anna Kendrick) has stumbled onto a discrepancy in the books. It means that someone has been embezzling money on a large scale. Affleck takes the job of identifying the culprit and spurns Kendrick’s attempts to be friendly—at first.
The trouble with Bill Dubuque’s screenplay is that it’s much too long and takes forever to put the pieces of its puzzle together. In fact, it holds out on us right to the very end. I found this to be frustrating rather than intriguing, and there’s at least one piece of that complicated puzzle that doesn’t make much sense; I can’t describe it or I’d give away a crucial story ingredient.
For a thriller with a bookish hero, The Accountant is extremely violent. Almost every killing is lightning-fast (using guns with silencers) so people die with shocking suddenness. Director Gavin O’Connor handles all of this efficiently but the protracted screenplay and unlikely story twists do him no favors. We’re left with a cluttered, unsatisfying mess.