The other side of the balance sheet

The other side of the balance sheet

Review: The Accountant

(MA15+) Ben Affleck, JK Simmons, Anna Kendrick

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) has struggled all of his life to fit into society. Due to his father’s military lifestyle and also having high-functioning autism, Christian had to learn to adapt to the world around him. His father’s unique teaching in self-defense, combined with acute abilities in mathematics, Christian manages to become a sought-after forensic accountant — for some of the world’s most influential criminal organisations. Using his rare gifts for finding hidden discrepancies in the books of these groups, he unmasks their internal problems. Many times, he also deals out justice in his own way, through more physical means. In the process of administering this vigilante-style of balancing the books, he crosses paths with Treasury agent Ray King (J.K. Simmons). Ray King threatens to get more involved in Christian’s business, when the exceptional accounant is hired by a cutting-edge robotics company. As he digs deeper into their files, his discoveries bring him closer to his own past, to being exposed and to putting innocent lives in jeopardy.

The premise of The Accountant has the potential to confuse and overwhelm movie fans, much less those who know little about accountancy. Thankfully, director Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) has ensured that a potential mess has turned into an entertaining thinking-person’s film. O’Connor delves far enough into the world of autism and the world of military children to provide the background that lays the foundation for the situational ethics confronted by Wolff. Audiences also can understand his disposition and decision-making skills, so that his cold demeanour becomes winsome and even humorous at times.

Coming off his performance as Batman, Affleck takes on this role of a distant and focussed accountant with convincing intensity. The role is ideally suited for his persona and the slow-boil scripting is handled superbly by the accomplished actor. The surrounding cast adds to the quality of this action mystery. J.K. Simmons continues to provide the right amount of magnetism and measured control. As the veteran treasury agent, Simmons adds the earnestness that lifts the tension of the storyline. Partnered with relative newcomer Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow), as a junior investigator, they make a formidable rival to the bookkeeping protagonist. Also in support, Anna Kendrick puts forward her best role in ages, but the inclusion of Jon Bernthal (Fury) as a competing assassin is a work of genius casting. O’Connor weaves together this exceptional cast with convincing direction that delivers a cinematic capital gain.

When it comes to a balanced consideration for this film, audiences must weigh up that it is a violent affair. Christian Wolff’s self-administered justice and the parental style of his father may cause some to give this a miss. On the other side of the balance sheet is a fascinating study of being ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ The manner in which the production team handles the ‘abilities’ (as opposed to the ‘disabilities’) of many of the lead characters is worth engaging with. The Accountant may run up against some of your sensibilities, but is a film worth considering because it delivers on the entertainment front and will lead to a multitude of conversation points after the screening.


What are the bigger questions to consider from this film?

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139: 14)

What do The Accountant and Finding Dory have in common? Both movies were released this year, have divergent storylines and are intended for completely different audiences. But what they both do is consider that we all have different abilities and skills. The gifts we have may seem odd to the outside world; dare it be said, even ‘Weird?’ Yet, in looking at the Bible’s account of each person on this earth, they were all made by and loved by God. These films and the Bible provide a different way to look at those with different ‘abilities’.

What should we know about disabilities?

Psalm 139: 13-14, Romans 5:3-5

What does the Bible say about family?

John 15:12-17


Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger



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