Sunday 4 December 2016

The Accountant by Bill Dubuque

Alert! This is a really good movie. I was intrigued by the trailer, but when I saw it the quality of the film really took me by surprise. 

It's an action thriller with the cheeky premise that the hero is an accountant. What's more, he's autistic — a savant with numbers, which has led to him being involved in money laundering by major crime combines. Just to stay alive, he's had to acquire serious survival skills and strategies.

Ben Affleck plays our hero, under a welter of pseudonyms based on famous mathematicians. Currently he's Christian Wolff. Hunting him down for the feds are J.K Simmons as a senior Treasury investigator and Cynthia Addai-Robinson as his analyst and aide, a former gang banger.

Our sympathies are with Affleck immediately, as in his role as strip-mall accountant — a cover for his true operations — he saves a middle aged farming couple from economic oblivion by showing them how to exploit tax loopholes ("The company truck").

The Accountant is full of gratifying, exciting action as our hero battles the bad guys. And it's such a strong, vivid, original set-up that I thought it must be based on a comic or video game or something. But no, it's a complete original, created by Bill Dubuque who is the sole credited screenwriter.

Dubuque was previously involved in the The Judge, another film I fondly remember which was surprisingly well written. Here he has come up with a thriller which is also fascinating and engrossing, cleverly structured and populated with quirky, original and intriguing characters. It really is an exceptional piece of work.

It's splendidly directed by Gavin O'Connor (Jane Got a Gun) and among a uniformly strong cast Ben Affleck is outstanding. He does a great job of depicting this character who is lost inside his head and has great trouble relating to ordinary people. 

Bill Dubuque has given his hero a repertoire of rote strategems for navigating everyday life, like remembering to say "Have a nice day". And Affleck has added his own clever small touches. I particularly like the way he gives the farm couple a casual little wave after they witness him committing an act of devastating violence.

The film's one flaw is that I thought I saw a major plot twist coming a mile off. And indeed I did. But Dubuque had another one up his sleeve, and I left the cinema gratifyingly surprised and elated.

(Image credits: Thin pickings at Imp Awards. Supplemented by the one with the lunchbox, which is from Fat Movie Guy. A very disappointing array. The idea of sticking a piece of paper across the star's face must have seemed like a clever gimmick, but I imagine it knocked tens of millions off the movie's revenue. And the jigsaw puzzle one, which only makes sense once you've seen the film, is absolutely dullsville.)


  1. Hi Andrew, sorry to pester but just checking if you got my email address to contact me re an interview (I don't have Facebook you see) It's

    Thanks again.

    PS I think this is the most positive review I've seen of this one so far!

  2. Hey Mark, I will email you now. I'm not sure how The Accountant was generally received... I know my brother wasn't impressed, but I really liked it.

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