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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Death and Taxes

The Accountant (2016) on IMDb

Plot Overview

We open with an unknown man assailing (“Put the gun down”) a seedy dive that later turns out to be the base of operations for the Gambino crime family. Flash­back to the Harbor Neuro­science Institute, New Hampshire, 1989. A neurologist (Jason Davis) explains to a concerned mother (Mary Kraft) and father (Robert Treveiler) that their son Chris (Seth Lee), currently engaged in “strong self-stimulation,” shows classic signs of autism. The doctor offers to “work with your son at his speed” if they will leave him in the comfort­able environment of the institution. Instead, the militarily oriented father decides to double down on his kid's difficulties.

Moving around with his Army dad to thirty-four homes in seventeen years he's tutored relentlessly (“Carry on”—“Tak apa apa, lanjutkan saja”) by sparring partners from all over the world. Then he does a stint in prison where his education is rounded out by an accountant in (unfortunately temporary) protective custody—from the dreaded Gambino family. Now free-lance accountant Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) operates with “a high functioning form of autism” proving him­self a man of “almost super­natural” talent doing the books for racketeer influenced criminal organizations. He moves around a lot and uses his training to survive such a clientele. He launders and hides his income—most of which he donates to the institute—to escape the notice of the Treasury Dept.

When Living Robotics' in-house accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) discovers a major discrepancy in their books, the company following a tip brings in Christian to get to the bottom of it. The two accountants are both targeted for assassination after they learn too much. Mean­while, Treasury analyst Mary­beth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) is about to crack Christian's obfuscated identity. As if worrying which group will nail him first isn't enough of a nail biter, the guy's past catches up with him big time.


“There's three ways of doing things,” so the saying goes, “the right way, the wrong way, and the Army way.” The opening differentiates among the old way of thinking about autism (“the wrong way”), the new way of thinking about it (“the right way”), and the father's way of thinking (“the Army way.”) The kid is sensitive to sound, light, and texture? He doesn't need avoidance; he needs more of the same. As an adult his nightly routine includes the stimulation of a strobe light, some metal rock music, and a wooden dowel rubbed along his shin­bone. His relentless martial arts training by experts has left him with a composed bearing uncommon in uncool autistics. All that remains is an intense concen­tration, organized routines, a relatively flat affect, and a few physical tics.

This result came by not mixing “the Army way” with the other ways he would have got at the institution. If we want to find in the movie some parallel applicable to the Christian faith, it could well be, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” The scriptural injunction is followed (2Cor. 6:15-18) by rhetorical questions about mixing unbeliever practices into Christian worship modes. The movie is replete with illustrations within its own frame­work on what mixtures to avoid. A couple's living room deducted as a tax write off for business use as an office in a home can't be used for other purposes, too. They don't mix. It's Christian's partner­ships with neighboring businesses that draws the Treasury's attention to this unlikely mixture. The Gambino family won't team up with H&R Block to balance its books. The Treasury Dept. are team players, even with other law enforcement agencies. The protective custody of inmates isolated them from threats. The painting of the poker-playing dogs was “disturbing” precisely because dogs don't gamble in their play.

The movie ends back at the institute where the doctor expounds on the capabilities of autism sufferers if we give them a chance. He says that might even include marriage and family for some of them, but not for all. To draw a broad analogy to Christian choices in this sphere, let's take St. Paul's letter to Philemon concerning the man's run­away slave Onesimus who has since converted to the faith. Paul stopped short of commanding him what to do, trusting rather, (Philemon 1:6) “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” He'd figure it out himself.  The pronoun ‘you’ that Paul used there in Philemon displaces the customary ‘thee’ in the 1611 King James Version (KJV). As I mentioned in another paper English was going through a transitional stage at that time in which one's betters were addressed simply by ‘you’—except for the Quakers who didn't believe in classes so still spoke to you as ‘thee’ or ‘thou’. The man Philemon is filled with “every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus,” so Paul entrusts him worthy of respect to manage his own house­hold affairs.  Paul was willing to trust the Lord to, (Heb. 13:21) “Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well­pleasing in his sight.”

1 Corinthians 7Paul's character of deferring to the believer filled with “every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus” shows up also in his advice to the Corinthians on matrimony. Paul the celibate eunuch wrote, (1Cor. 7:7) “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” He trusted each to find his proper gift “which is in you,” as they them­selves are “in Christ Jesus.” He explicitly defers to the widow abiding in the Lord, who (1Cor. 7:39) “if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”

The wife in this movie leaving the military man she married, when she couldn't abide his ways, has a corresponding Christian parallel. Paul answered the Corinthians about it in his first letter to them, concerning their query on mixed marriages, (1Cor. 7:12-15) “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. … But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” For those Christians currently married to an unbeliever, it is the Christian's part to remain so, subject to the acceptance of the other partner. In this movie the non-military wife left and should have been left in peace without ex-husband and son crashing a family-only wake after she expired. Her new family seemed to be attached to law enforcement which didn't bode well with a "Barny Fife" in attendance.

A wife leaving a military man only to remarry into a law enforcement family, why, that's like a non-Christian spouse leaving a Christian spouse whose denomination she didn't like and then remarrying to a Christian of another denomination. That raises the question of whether that second Christian is permitted to enter into a marriage to a nonbeliever. Paul earlier in his first Corinthian epistle wrote, (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether … the world, or … things present, or things to come; all are your's.” That would expand the rule of current mixed marriages, i.e “the world, things present,” to mixed marriages to come, i.e “the world, things to come.”

According to my Criswell Study Bible, “Second Corinthians was written some six months later” than First Corinthians. In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul says he's, (2Cor. 4:2) “... not handling the word of God deceit­fully.” An example of deceit can be found when, (Gen. 34:13) “the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.” They told them they were allowed to inter­marry but used it as a ruse to gain an advantage, because actually they weren't allowed. Paul wasn't being deceitful, so after he tells the Corinthians a mixed marriage is permissible, he's not going to tell them six months later it isn't. Paul does, though, ask them the rhetorical question, (2Cor. 6:15) “what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Webster defines “infidel: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity.” The Corinthians have a ready example of such pairings of believers taking part in marriages with unbelievers: the ones they asked Paul about earlier, now minus the couples where the unbelieving spouse either converted or departed, plus any new mixed marriages that occurred in the six month interim per Paul's allowance. Say for example a non-Christian spouse left a Jewish Christian and then remarries to a Gentile Christian whose form of practice she's more comfortable with. In the movie it is the wife's attitude towards her military husband and his ways that helps inform our assessment of how well military life mixes with civilian, which mixture is also hinted at through­out. In the Bible it is the observed tension in mixed marriages (altogether permitted if that's your bag and the unbeliever is willing) that helps inform the Christian regarding the incompatibility of Christian and heathen worship forms (whose mixture is not permitted).

Production Values

This film, “” was directed by Gavin O'Connor. Its screen­play was written by Bill Dubuque. It stars Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, and John Lithgow. Ben Affleck is way cooler than was Dustin Hoffman of “Rain Man” fame, which might be stretching the results for even so radical a treatment. He does a passable "Holly­wood" portrayal, though, and stays in character. Jon Bernthal is captivating as a deadly earnest hatchet man. J.K Simmons does great as a Treasury Dept. Crime Enforcement Div. superior in a fix. Anna Kendrick is wonderful in her limited supporting role of a sympathetic assistant with sex appeal.

MPAA rated it R for strong violence and language throughout. The editing makes it jump around a lot simulating, I suppose, the disorder an autistic person must experience at the minor disruptions that don't phase healthy minds. The photography is excellent, the screenplay perceptive, the sound­track likeable, the humor funny.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

“The Accountant” is good but probably not a classic although it speaks well for its actors. I was completely engaged. It works well on multiple levels. Its jumpy editing is rightly excusable.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

The Criswell Study Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville | Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1979. Print.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: MERRIAM-WEBSTER. 1984. Print.