Film / The Accountant

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"Imagine the secrets this guy has."

"Can our son lead a normal life?"

The Accountant is a 2016 action thriller film directed by Gavin O'Connor, starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, and John Lithgow.

Meet Christian Wolff (Affleck), an autistic boy turned accountant for various dangerous criminal organizations. A mathematics savant, Wolff gains a client in the form of a state-of-the-art robotics company and ends up caught in a web of conspiracy. Things especially turn for the worse when his protege Dana Cummings (Kendrick) discovers things that would make her a target. But Wolff is very much prepared to deal with such troubles... in most lethal ways.

A sequel is currently in production with Ben Affleck attached as the leading character.

View the first trailer here, and the second here.


The Accountant provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Christian's dad is a complex example. He's a career soldier who puts his sons (one of whom is autistic) through Training from Hell, starting at a very young age. None of this is what any mental health professional would recommend, but it's clear he's doing what he thinks is best for them. The results are ambiguous. Both of them become badasses, and the autistic one is highly functional as an adult, but they also both end up criminals of one kind or another.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several moments, most notably when Ray King talks to Marybeth about his greatest failure.
  • Acoustic License: In a neat subversion, Christian uses a super sonic sniper rifle, as such mooks are killed before the people next to them hear the shot being fired.
  • Adorkable: Dana - cute, friendly, enthusiastic, and played by the petite Anna Kendrick. So much so, in fact, that she manages to bring out Christian's own Adorkable side when they geek out over his work on Living Robotics' finances.
  • Affably Evil: Braxton, as shown in his first scene and Establishing Character Moment, when confronting a Corrupt Corporate Executive he has to bully into ceasing his white-collar crimes, he greets the man like they were friends and talks to him in a friendly tone, even as he is beating the man. Lamarr Blackburn the Big Bad, is also rather friendly and personable in his day to day life, though it turns to be mostly a façade.
  • Almost Kiss: Dana tries to lean in on Christian, but it's clearly not something he's ready for.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Averted, there was an effort to portray autism with some degree of realism even in a story with this kind of premise. A number of the plot points in the movie are based on actual autistic behaviors.
  • Anachronic Order: Lots of flashbacks throughout the film flesh out the backstory of The Accountant and Director King.
  • Anti-Hero: Wolff is ultimately revealed as one, given that he goes out of his way to protect Dana and the fact that he informs on his criminal clients to King.
  • Asshole Victim: Lamar, who gets shot in the head by Wolff after Braxton makes his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Badass Adorable: Wolff and his brother Braxton were trained in martial arts at a young age as shown in a flashback.
  • Badass Bookworm: Wolff is a prodigious genius when it comes to math and handling of money. He's also an expert marksman, and an incredibly tough hand-to-hand combatant.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When we first see King, he blackmails Medina into helping him find Wolff, leading us to believe that the Treasury will be the antagonists and that they'll eventually conflict with Wolff in the middle of the movie. However, after we see both Braxton and, later on, Lamar as our true villains, it's revealed that Wolff was actually helping the Treasury by reporting crimes and stopping criminals and that King's blackmail was actually a desperate attempt to get Medina to gather context for Wolff so that, when he asks her to take his place as Wolff's receiver when he retires, it won't come out of left field for her.
  • Berserk Button: Threatening, injuring or killing people that Wolff has befriended is a bad idea.
  • BFG: Wolff likes to do target practice with a Barrett M82, an anti-materiel rifle that fires huge .50 BMG anti-materiel rounds. He gets to use it on mooks at one point.
  • Big Bad: Lamar Blackburn, the CEO of Living Robotics.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Wolff's.
  • Black and White Morality: Medina has this mindset, as seen when King tells her that Christian is, for all rights and merits, on their side. She points out that he's still a criminal both through associating himself with criminals and murdering said criminals. Though she doesn't seem to let it take over her and takes up King's sword in being the one informed by Christian's antics.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: From Treasury's standpoint, Wolff is a case of this. He's a remorseless criminal, but he gives them leads on people who violate his ethical code, and these people are much worse than he is, so because of his assistance, Treasury gets leads on things like human trafficking victims that they wouldn't get otherwise. Wolff's actual motivations turn out to be more a case of Black and Grey Morality. Most of his money, we find out towards the end of the film, has been donated to a clinic for autistic children. He has an ethical code; it just doesn't line up with the law.
  • Boom, Headshot: Christian's natural method of gunplay involves his, often even shooting mooks in the head twice to be sure. Wolff kills Lamar like this, after Braxton makes his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Boxed Crook: King learns that Medina lied about being a convicted felon when she got her job, which is itself a felony. She can either agree to work with him on his pet case, or he'll turn her in.
  • Broken Ace: Christian Wolff is a mathematical genius of the highest order, even being compared to Albert Einstein and Amadeus Mozart when he was only a child. But it's clear that he suffers from a disorder that ranges from obsessive compulsive disorder to lack of social skills.
  • Brutal Honesty: Christian sometimes veers into this due to his autism reducing his social awareness.
  • Busman's Holiday: Christian only took the job with Living Robotics to take a break from his work for dangerous criminals. He ends up stumbling upon a case where the guilty party is willing to send a small army of killers cover it up.
  • Cain and Abel: Wolff and his brother are a subverted example. The only time Braxton actually tries to hurt his brother is before he realizes it's him. After that he starts beating the shit out of him, but it's clear he's just upset at him for disappearing for ten years after their father was killed. The two of them seem to (mostly) work out their issues.
  • Character Tic: Christian blows on the tip of his fingers before undertaking meticulous tasks.
    • His handler has a habit of saying "Heavy sigh" to demonstrate frustration... because she cannot actually sigh at all.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Subverted. Wolff's math skills come in part from his autism, but his physical prowess and weapons proficiency comes from a particularly brutal Training from Hell from his father, and a stint in the military.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Wolff's brother, who features prominently in the flashbacks, isn't seen in the present day. Until it's revealed that he, Wolff's Brother, is The Dragon. And the girl from the neuroscience institute turns out to be incredibly important.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Christian has a nightly routine of blaring loud music, flashing strobe lights and using a wooden bar to massage his leg for 20 minutes, all of which is to counter his over-sensitivity to noise, lights and touch. All of which comes into play in the climax as he is able to remain calm and focused while dealing with the noise and muzzle flashes from gunfire.
  • Child Prodigy: A young Wolff was able to assemble a puzzle of Muhammad Ali face down.
  • Cold Sniper: Wolff is a deadly marksman, especially with his Barrett M82.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Christian sells his services to various terrorists, cartels and big businesses, and using the insider knowledge he acquires he passes that information to King anonymously, who uses those tips to help take down those groups. King brought in Medina for the purpose of taking over when he retires.
  • Contrived Coincidence: What are the odds that the hitman hunting down the Living Robotics employees would turn out to be Christian's brother?
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: In addition to being the Big Bad, Lamar also turns out to be this. Although, interestingly, he is also a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Think Wolff is just your typical nerdy accountant who's not a physical threat? Think again.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: As soon as Wolff stops holding back, he easily defeats his brother in a matter of seconds.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Wolff and Medina.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: The final shootout at Lamar's mansion.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Wolff and Dana form a bond with some clear romantic undertones, but he chooses not to pursue any potential relationship due to the dangers of his lifestyle and personal issues.
  • Disability Superpower: Taken to the extreme. Christian is high functioning autistic, naturally a mathematics genius and abnormally strong. Rather than sending him to a specialized school his dad had him trained in various forms of combat and weapons training, believing the world will not be forgiving. Due to his autism he treats everything he does with precision and MUST complete a job. In a combat situation he is equal to just about any special forces soldier.
  • The Dragon: Braxton, though he makes a Heel–Face Turn following his fight with Wolff.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: While Lamar may be the Big Bad, the mercenary he hired, Braxton, serves as the biggest threat in the film. He is the one who does all The Heavy lifting, the planning, the only one who can match Wolff, his brother, in hand to hand combat, while Lamar stays out of his way and remain a Non-Action Big Bad. Braxton himself doesn't really like Lamar at all and lets his brother shoots him.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Though his life is threatened as well Christian especially puts himself in harm's way for the sake of Dana, who he had brief moments of connection with, though their meetings can be counted on one hand. His handler even comments on this.
  • Easily Forgiven: Wolff and Braxton immediately made clear they hold no ill-will against the other and won't harm each other, despite Braxton's slaughter of many innocent people and Wolff's being the indirect cause of their father's death, and never contacting Braxton afterwards. It's part of the indoctrination by their father who told them that family comes first, in good times and bad.
  • Enfant Terrible: After receiving combat training from his father, Christian's tantrums went from simply being loud to destructively violent.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Wolff's brilliance is established when, as a child, he completes a puzzle facedown. His inability to leave a task incomplete is established when he can't find the last piece and has a panic attack.
    • In his first scene as an adult, Christian is doing taxes for an older couple worried about losing their farm. Even though he's incapable of conversing with them normally (and even though his tax preparation service is just a front), he goes out of his way to reduce their tax bill and get their finances in order. He clearly doesn't really know how to deal with people, but does want to help them.
    • Braxton is introduced bullying a Corrupt Corporate Executive into ceasing his current mishandling of his clients accounts, in a surprisingly friendly and upbeat tone.
    • Dana sleeping on a desk when she's supposed to be meeting Christian.
  • Eureka Moment: A somewhat ill advised one with Wolff interrupting Dana's Almost Kiss by springing up and rattling off an example of a man who laundered money overseas initially for tax evasion, only to send it back to inflate his stock price for a public offering.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Braxton, once he realizes that Wolff is his brother, doesn't hesitate to kill his last remaining henchman when he won't stand down, and while he does fight Wolff, it's established that, due to their father's particular parenting method, fighting is a way they can communicate with each other; indeed, Wolff lets Braxton whale on him for a while.
  • Evil Brit: Wolff's handler, inasmuch as she puts him in touch with cartels and similarly criminal groups. Though it transpires that she is not in fact British at all, but using a text-to-speech converter.
  • Foil: Medina to Wolff, to a certain extent. They're both outsiders who have troubled pasts and No Social Skills. Medina started out as a delinquent and engaged in vigilantism to protect her sister, but ultimately wound up working for the law. By contrast, Wolff was raised by his military father and ultimately wound up a vigilante. Wolff ends up feeding leads to Medina at the end of the film.
  • Forensic Accounting: Wolff's specialty, towards both legitimate businesses and... otherwise; he's smart enough to do it quickly and cleanly, "clean" enough to be trusted over in-house accountants, and tough enough to survive any attempt to kill him to cover up problems. There's an entire sequence that shows Wolff's method and manages to actually make it interesting.
    • The sequence even includes some real aspects of forensic accounting like determining that values in a suspicious account were likely faked based on patterns in the digits that would be unlikely to happen by chance.
  • Genre Savvy: After a handful of Mooks take an elderly couple Wolff befriended hostage to lure him out while he was doing some target practice, instead of walking over to them like they wanted he simply kills one of them with the high caliber sniper rifle he was holding, before using said rifle to take out their get away car.
  • Genius Bruiser: Wolff, with elements of Lightning Bruiser. He's big, but when he fights, he's surprisingly quick.
  • Gun Porn: Wolff has an entire room of guns.
  • Handicapped Badass: Wolff is autistic, albeit a very high-functioning and highly trained one in both marksmanship and a deadly Indonesian martial art called silat. He still has to calm himself down in highly stressful combat situations with his "Solomon Grundy" nursery rhyme / mantra.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • Dana's discovery of Wolff's true profession has the latter immediately work to try to get her to safety.
    • Silverberg also warns Wolff that his knowledge of his clients' secrets will soon get him killed.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Braxton at the end, when it's revealed that he and Wolff are brothers.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Downplayed with Christian Wolff in his daily life. He even lampshades how he even has a pocket-protector when Dana lists off the stereotypical traits of a nerd.
  • How We Got Here: The opening scene shows a man with a gun making his way through a building where a shooter is methodically killing everyone inside. The scene gets revisited later, when Medina analyses an audio recording of the incident, and again when Director King tells her the story of the day when he entered that building and met The Accountant.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: There is quite a height and size difference between Christian and Dana (Ben Affleck is a very large 6'4 and Anna Kendrick is a petite 5'2).
  • I Have a Family: When King was cornered at gunpoint by Christian while investigating the latter's Roaring Rampage of Revenge, he talked about his two kids and how he's done his best to be a good father to him. This leads to Christian not only sparing him but becoming his informant and leading him to his current position.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Invoked but downplayed by Wolff. He acknowledges that he's different and has trouble socializing, but he wants to. He generally likes people, as his Establishing Character Moment shows. When he finds people he connects with, like Dana or Francis, he becomes protective. How much of his difficulty is due to his autism and how much is due to his Abusive Parents is unclear.
  • Implied Love Interest: Dana certainly seems to be into Christian, but his returning her feelings is left ambiguous. He backs out of her attempted kiss, which could be a result of his lack of social skills, a lack of any desire, or simply being way too caught up in their current dangerous situation to be capable of dealing with romantic emotions. Moments after he gets his Eureka Moment regarding the motive for the missing money, shortly after he leaves the hotel, and they apparently never see each other again.
    • His final interaction is gifting her a picture of Dogs Playing Poker which is a cover for his real Jackson Pollock painting.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Christian is shown to be a crack sniper, but at one point he holds a Barett while standing and walking to shoot out the engine block of a moving truck. Granted, the truck was not far and Christian has exceptional strength, but the M82 is a large, awkward rifle to use.
  • Improvised Weapon: Despite Dana not being an Action Girl, she was actually able to fend off an assassin using a stove grille and a toilet tank lid. This bought her enough time for Wolff to show up and save her.
  • The Informant: Wolff is revealed to be an unofficial one to the Treasury Department, specifically Director King.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: The first trailer starts off giving you the impression that this will be one of those films. It really isn't.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Wolff's father may have been going about it the wrong way but he is right when he says the world is not friendly for people like Wolff and that he must learn to adjust to it. Lamarr Blackburn also has a point in saying Living Robotics could help a lot of people, even if he does resort to fraud and hiring mercenaries to murder everyone in his way to get funds.
  • Karma Houdini:
  • Karmic Death: Christian's father did all he could to prepare his son for physical threats that he neglected to help him develop emotionally or socially. When the two visit the wake of Christian's mother, the boy has a breakdown and starts lashing out at innocent bystanders. The attending police officers draw their guns on the manic Christian and his father winds up taking the bullet, paying the price for his developmental neglect.
  • Literal-Minded: Christian is autistic and tends to struggle with spotting sarcasm or rhetorical questions, responding completely seriously.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Braxton is Wolff's estranged younger brother.
  • The Mafia: The Gambino family. Wolff's prison mentor, Francis Silverberg, worked for them before selling them to the FBI out of fear for his life. They caught him after his release from prison and tortured him to death. It prompted Wolff to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against them.
  • Missing Mom: Wolff and Braxton's mother left when she could no longer deal with her husband's way of dealing with Christian's situation.
  • Mood Whiplash: A few minor ones due to Wolff's social difficulties. But when he solves the money trouble and shares a happy moment with Dana, it's interrupted by news that the CFO and key suspect "killed" himself. On a more positive note, he brutally beats a giant mook and breaks his neck, and then cheerfully waves to horrified witnesses and strolls off without a word.
  • Motive Rant: Blackburn tries his best to explain why he did what he did to Wolff. It doesn't work, and probably didn't even register.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Never has accounting looked more awesome and exciting than when Christian does it.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Wolff is advertised as a vigilante/hitman, with his skills coming from his autism. The film does not go down that line.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Lamar Blackburn is just a Corrupt Corporate Executive who doesn't even try to confront Wolf on his own, and once Braxton does a Heel–Face Turn, he is left completely defenseless and Wolf simply blows his brains out without second thought.
  • No Name Given: "Christian Wolff" is just one of the Accountant's several aliases; his real name goes unrevealed by the film's end.
  • No Social Skills: Wolff confesses to Dana that he has difficulty socializing despite wanting to. His father never tried to teach him any and what little he possesses in terms of etiquette and empathy was taught to him by Francis who he wasn't able to spend that much time with.
  • The Obi-Wan: Francis Silverberg serves as this to Wolff to a certain extent, serving as his mentor in accounting. His death is the impetus for the Roaring Rampage of Revenge that King witnesses at the start of the film.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Both the mob killing that Agent King investigates and Wolff's time in prison with Francis are revisited in the second half of the film, revealing an Anachronic Order.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: To underscore how rattled Wolff is at having the accounting project shut down before he can finish it, we see him parking his vehicle very poorly.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Both Braxton and Christian himself work for criminals, but simply see it as a job to be done. Christian rats out any that violate his own personal moral code to King, and later Medina.
  • The Rainman: Christian Wolff has High-Functioning Autism, and the film's portrayal of the disorder shies away from falling into showing the disorder as Hollywood Autism.
  • Red Herring: The female executive, who is briefly thought to be the Big Bad by Wolf, until he finds her with a bullet in her head, thanks to Braxton.
  • Retirony: Director King is seven months from retirement, and determined to find out who The Accountant is before he retires, assigning Medina to be his pointman on the case. Averted: He was actually grooming Medina to be The Accountant's contact inside the Treasury Department.
  • The Reveal: Multiple:
    • King talks to Medina to reveal that Wolff is in fact both an Anti-Hero who informs on his worst clients, and that King's late blooming career is the result of such information.
    • The Big Bad is in fact Wolff's employer, Blackburn.
    • Braxton, the lead mercenary employed by the villain, is in fact Wolff's little brother, and their bond is still strong enough that except for a short emotional fistfight, Braxton doesn't interfere when Wolff kills the Big Bad.
    • Christian's handler is actually Justine, a low-functioning autistic woman he befriended as a child who communicates through a speech program.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Wolff goes on a horrific crime spree against the mob who killed his mentor.
  • Rule of Symbolism: When Christian first meets Lamar, their handshake is framed over an ad for Lamar's prosthetic company, showing a mechanical hand shaking a real one; this highlights Christian's seeming emotionlessness against Lamar's external warmth. Of course, we later learn that that's a complete inversion of their inward natures.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Dana's most important moment (finding out about the accounting issue) is her only really critical moment in the movie, and it happens off-screen before the events of the movie even begin.
    • Her only other major scene together is Dana relaying the story about growing up, trying & failing to win at blackjack to make money for her prom dress. This is enough to "make a connection" with Wolff, to the point that it motivates Christian to be pissed enough to hunt down the Big Bad instead of just abandoning her.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: It, of course, makes perfect sense that somebody with No Social Skills has no interest in wasting time arguing with the villain.
  • Shown Their Work: How the film depicts Christian's autism. Many of his behaviors, like the need to finish a job and patterned behaviors, are real behaviors by those on the autism spectrum.
  • The Stoic: Christian. Justified by his condition, of course
    • Subverted when Christian was unable to finish his work with Living Robotics accounts.
  • Storming the Castle: The climax has Wolff attacking Lamar's mansion.
  • Survival Mantra: Wolff recites "Solomon Grundy" in high-stress situations as a coping mechanism.
  • Take Up My Sword: The entire reason why King had Medina investigate on Christian in the first place. He's retiring soon and needed someone to be there for Christian when he reports the criminals.
  • Themed Aliases: Wolff takes his from historical mathematicians. Even Christian Wolff is one. His real name is unrevealed.
  • Title Drop:
    Medina: So who is he?
    King: The Accountant.
    Medina: Like...a CPA accountant?
    King: Not quite.
  • Training from Hell: What Wolff's father put him and his brother through as kids. Also, the sensory overload (flashing lights, loud noises, physical pain) Wolff inflicts on himself every day as a way to prepare for the world.
  • Tykebomb: Christian and his brother were trained by specialists in various forms of combat since childhood.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: The Voice, who takes care of contacting and brokering deals with Christian's clients. She turns out to be exactly the trope.
  • What the Hell Are You?:
    • Dana, after entering Wolff's home and finding loads of money, gold, and weapons, asks him this when he finds her there.
    • And Medina to King after King reveals how he really is able to solve so many cases.

"Define normal."
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