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This Netflix Top 10 Ben Affleck Movie Was Originally Panned by Critics


This Netflix Top 10 Ben Affleck Movie Was Originally Panned by Critics


Summary

  • Don’t overlook The Accountant – an expertly plotted crime thriller that deserves a second chance.
  • Critics missed the mark – Affleck shines as a relatable action hero with autism. Reappraise now.
  • The Accountant 2 is on the way – with Dubuque and O’Connor returning, expect a thrilling sequel.



Some of the best movies require repeated viewings to be fully appreciated. One excellent example is The Accountant, the 2016 action-thriller starring Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff, an autistic CPA and math genius who uses his knowledge to launder money for terrorist organizations. At the time, the film was panned by critics as a wannabe Jason Bourne, John Wick-style action extravaganza. Upon closer inspection, the movie is an expertly plotted and richly textured character-driven crime thriller that deserves another look.


Directed by Gavin O’Connor (Miracle, Warrior) from a screenplay by Bill Dubuque (Ozark), The Accountant is finally getting its deserved appreciation after recently landing on Netflix for a whole new audience to enjoy. As a result, plans for TheAccountant 2 have recently picked up steam, giving moviegoers an even bigger reason to revisit the original while it’s still available on Netflix. For more, it’s time to reexamine the merits of The Accountant as one of Affleck’s Top 10 movies.

The Accountant

Release Date
October 14, 2016

Runtime
128 Minutes

Writers
Bill Dubuque


What is The Accountant About?

Lamar and Chris walk the factory in The Accountant
Warner Bros.


Written by Bill Dubuque in 2011, the original screenplay for The Accountant made it to Black List, a roster of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. With an outstanding blueprint to work from, the story traces Christian Wolff (Affleck), a certified public accountant with autism. When his mother neglects Christian for failing to attend the Harbor Neuroscience Clinic, his father trains Christian and his brother Braxton (Jon Bernthal) in combat and martial arts.

Christian also runs a small accounting firm in Illinois, which serves as a front for his illegal money laundering scheme for various criminals. When Chris is hired by Living Robotics CEO Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow in a great film role) to audit the financial anomalies, he discovers that $61 million has been embezzled from the company. As a search for the thieves ensues, Chris is relentlessly hunted down by a gang of assassins. Thanks to his expert martial artistry and gun handling, Chris is just as dominant with an assault rifle as he is with a spreadsheet.


As Chris fights off his attackers, Living Robotics Treasury Director Ray King (J.K. Simmons) hires criminal data analyst Marybeth (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to find Christian’s real identity. Christian Wolff has been an alias the whole time, forcing viewers to rethink everything they’ve seen up to this point. In the end, viewers learn that Christian got away without harm thanks to Justine (Alison Wright), a young girl with a form of non-verbal autism who lives at Harbor Neuroscience. Justine accommodates all of Christian’s technological assistance and communicates with Ray King on his behalf.

While Christian was hired to “un-cook the books” for Living Robotics, he uncovered a fraudulent conspiracy within the company that he couldn’t expose without Justine’s help. He kills Lamar as a result and sends the outstanding money to Justine and the other autistic children at Harbor Neuroscience. After donating the money, Christian drives off into the sunset scott-free while towing his Airstream camper, setting up a potential sequel to the underrated 2016 thriller.


Critical Response to The Accountant

Chris writes equations on a window in The Accountant
Warner Bros.

Despite advocating for autistic lead characters, the critical response to The Accountant at the time was tepid at best and dismissive at worst. Many reviews seemed more interested in turning a punny phrase regarding taxes and accountants than judging the movie’s merits. For instance, the movie’s 53% Rotten Tomatoes score states, “The Accountant writes off a committed performance from Ben Affleck, leaving viewers with a scattershot action thriller beset by an array of ill-advised deductions.”

IndieWire’s review of the film echoes a similar sentiment, stating: “While ‘Jason Bourne meets Temple Grandin’ might sound like an interesting idea for a studio write-off, ‘James Bond meets Michael Clayton meets Rain Man meets all of their friends and enemies’ is a dull movie that’s too full of distractions to pay out any dividends.”


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Beyond the ridiculous accountant-based puns found in most reviews, some worthy criticisms of the movie can be found. Perhaps the most salient criticism comes from Slant Magazine, which gives the movie an average 50/100 rating and states: “The film juggles a ‘follow the money’ procedural with a corporate espionage thriller, producing two competing tones that never reconcile into one fluid narrative.” Despite the accurate assessment of the film’s tonal disparity, the performance by Affleck and the cerebral plot twists warrant repeat viewings to appreciate The Accountant’s operation.

Why The Accountant Deserves Reappraisal

Chris and Dana stand in the office in The Accountant
Warner Bros.


As The Accountant finds a new audience on Netflix, those who originally dismissed the movie should reappraise it ASAP. The chief reason is Ben Affleck’s committed and convincing movie performance as a relatable action hero who outwits and overpowers his enemies despite his so-called mental affliction. Moreover, Christian’s autism is never viewed as a debilitative character bug but rather a super-powered feature, a thoughtful development most critics were too busy writing silly tax puns to notice. The movie celebrates those with cognitive challenges; it does not judge or vilify them for one second.

Fortunately, a few leading film critics noticed the merits and supported the film in their reviews. The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy gave a slight recommendation, noting, “[It’s] all the more frustrating because of its conceptual freshness and Ben Affleck’s sly turn in the title role, this sleek action thriller ends up delivering standard shoot-’em-up goods after initially suggesting it might provide something rather different.”


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Going further in their praise, Variety’s review was more positive, noting how “The Accountant is nothing if not a puzzle — not so much a jigsaw as a three-dimensional brain-teaser that gets deeper and stranger with each new revelation.” While in the minority during the film’s release in 2016, The Accountant has rightfully garnered more love over the years to the point that an official sequel was announced in March 2024.

The Accountant 2

Chris takes cover with a gun in The Accountant
Warner Bros.


On March 7, 2024, Deadline reported thatThe Accountant 2 had been green-lit at Amazon MGM Studios. Fans of the original will be thrilled to know that writer Bill Dubuque and director Gavin O’Connor are set to return along with the main cast members Ben Affleck, Jon Bernthal, J.K. Simmons, and Cynthia Addair-Robinson. Affleck will produce with Matt Damon for their production company Artists Equity.

Although the plot details for the sequel have not been unveiled, The Accountant‘s final act sets up a natural story continuation. With Christian Wolff on the run from a band of trained killers with plans to reunite with his brother Braxton in two weeks, a harrowing collision between the heroes and villains is bound to come in the upcoming Ben Affleck movie.

While it’s unclear if Wright will reprise her role as Justine, her character could also be expanded in The Accountant 2. It’s also worth noting that O’Connor and Affleck collaborated on the acclaimed basketball movie The Way Back in 2020 and their working relationship has only grown since making The Accountant.


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