The narrative tries to be efficient at plenty of genres, but master of none.
The Accountant exceeded expectations at the box office, opening better than Ben Affleck’s own films The Town and Argo. There’s no doubt it is another hit involving Affleck and audiences are eating it up. Although it has a lousy 50% Tomatometer, it also has an audience score of 86% and an ‘A’ Cinemascore. The Accountant has a little bit of something for everyone. It is an action-thriller, a romantic-comedy, and a superhero origin story among others. How exactly does The Accountant manage this feat while also telling its own story? Well it isn’t easy.
Note: Spoilers for The Accountant will follow.
The Accountant as an action-thriller
Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a no nonsense kind of guy. He lives each day to precision, leaving nothing out of place. He goes to work to do his accounting, he visits the same places, and lives an extremely quiet life. One day, he takes on a client who specializes in robotics because their books don’t quite add up. Someone gets murdered, but that isn’t the worst of it. Wolff’s mathematics have been erased from the glass walls he has been writing on! Sending him into a rage similar to when John Wick’s dog was killed, he becomes a one-man wrecking machine. He has high-caliber weapons at his disposal and he is going to get revenge on whoever ordered his mathematics erased. No one will be safe until Wolff is done with his equation.
The Accountant as a Superhero Origin Story
Young Christian Wolff has a special ability that makes him different from all other kids. Some may suggest that it is a “disability”, but his mind works at a different frequency than normal humans. In an attempt to help him control his powers, his mother brings him to a place for gifted children. His father, a man of military training, believes he can train his son better than any wannabe Professor Xavier and takes his son’s powers into his own hands. After the disappearance of his mother, Christian devotes himself to his fathers’ teachings. He learns multiple forms of martial arts training from his own Ra’s Al Ghul. When his father is killed in front of him, he disappears vowing to defend the underprivileged. He informs Commissioner Gordon (here played by J.K. Simmons practicing for his Justice League role), sorry Ray King, about crimes about to be committed and how the government can gain the upper hand. Christian even has his own Oracle looking after him and giving him missions to take on. This isn’t Ben Affleck as The Accountant, but Ben Affleck as The Batman.
The Accountant as a Romantic Comedy
Christian Wolff has always had problems blending in. Other people just don’t seem to understand him and he was always bullied as a child. He has decided to just live a comfortable life as an accountant for a small firm. On one fine day, he gets a job at a robotics company. That was the day his life was changed forever. Christian finds the intelligent and beautiful Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) asleep at her desk after an all-nighter. Dana is an accountant as well and although she always wanted to be an art student, her father insisted that art couldn’t pay the bills. She seems drawn to Christian, even if he has reservations about letting anyone in. Over the few days Christian is working at the robotics company he learns to care for Dana, but it was never meant to last. Just as soon as it begun, the job was over and Christian would never see Dana again. That is until fate stepped in! Dana and Christian ended up causality walking into each other…at Dana’s apartment. Apparently Christian just couldn’t stay away from the woman he loves. Christian takes Dana to a swank hotel and just when they are about to kiss, he chickens out! Will Christian ever overcome his fears and just confess to Dana?
The Accountant as a Prestige Oscar Drama
The world never expected much for Christian Wolff. He would never have the childhood many of his peers would and life would be extremely difficult. You see, Christian Wolff has a mental disorder that will make a normal life impossible. Although his mother wants to help him with his disability, his father has alternative medicine in mind. After many years of training and precise routine, Christian is able to use his disability to become one of the greatest mathematicians in the world. He has trained his body as well as his mind. He becomes so invested in the world of mathematics that he starts using aliases of other famous mathematicians such as Lewis Carroll and Carl Gauss. The Accountant even uses the ever famous ‘writing on all surfaces’ technique to show how Christian has turned his disability into something amazing. Christian isn’t just any old Accountant, he is a math savant worthy of Pulitzer acclaim. This picture just screams Oscar potential.
The Accountant as a Detective Drama
Ray King (J.K. Simmons) has just one more case he wants to close before his retirement. Thirty years ago he was involved he a massive crime that left the Gambino crime family wiped out. King was supposed to be providing protection for the families’ accountant, Francis Silverberg (Jeffrey Tambor) after his confession. King didn’t believe Silverberg would be in that much trouble and released him from prison. It wasn’t long before the Gambino family caught up to Silverberg and did him in. King has always wondered who administered the revenge against the Gambino family and he has now enlisted agent Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) in order for him to solve the mystery of the Gambino crime family killer. Marybeth uses various investigative techniques such as face mapping recognition and good ol’ fashion detective work in order to find who this person might be. Is he a criminal or a purveyor of justice?
The Accountant is many things that don’t exactly balance out at the end. It can never quite decide on what story it really wants to tell and for that reason it never really amounts to anything of substance. There are many more stories that The Accountant wants to tell rather than the one it settles on. As one of the repeated phases throughout is “Do you like puzzles?”, liking puzzles is a requirement to put together the pieces of The Accountant.