Maybe you’ve seen trailers for “The Accountant,” which feature Ben Affleck alternating between brooding like a bad ass and sticking up for pocket protectors. “Who is he?” someone asks. “The Accountant.” “Like CPA accountant?” Cut to Affleck holding a giant gun. “Not quite.”
If you’ve already decided to write this movie off as a cheese-fest, no one could blame you. But despite questionable dialogue and a slow beginning, “The Accountant” comes together like puzzle that’s just interesting enough to leave you satisfied.
Christian Wolff (Affleck) has a gifted mathematical mind but also struggles with autism. He works as an accountant, cooking the books for high-profile criminals and moving around under aliases. A young accountant, Dana (Anna Kendrick), at a tech company discovers an error in their books and Christian gets brought in, but before he can get to the bottom of it, people start getting killed. He goes against his anti-social habits to protect Dana and figure out what’s really going on.
It can be hard to take Affleck seriously, but his performance here works. He commits to the social disorder in mannerism and voice, and his dialogue delivery displays smart comedic timing. In fact, his bluntness undercuts a lot of the cheesiness that threatens to weigh the film down. Weirdly, his dynamic with Kendrick’s Dana is natural and enjoyable.
There are a lot of pieces to “The Accountant,” and once the film gets going, they’re not hard to put together. But the movie is smart to not treat its twists and turns as big shocks—it leads you through them and expects you to know what’s coming instead of indulging in melodrama.
Well, the dialogue is occasionally unforgivably terrible; keepers like, “That gun makes you a big man,” are snort-inducing. “The Accountant” also uses the worst of expositional techniques: having two people discuss information they’re both already fully aware of for the audience’s sake. The beginning is so hard to slog through that it takes a second to realize how enjoyable the second half is.
Much better than you expect it to be, “The Accountant” is a fun time despite its weaknesses.