‘The Accountant’ Reviews Don’t Add Up: ‘Laughable Wreck’ or ‘Effective and Affecting Pop Thriller’?

The action movie starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons has a score of 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

the accountant
Chuck Zlotnick/Warner Bros. Pictures

Critics are torn about Ben Affleck‘s “The Accountant,” with one reviewer calling it a “laughing wreck,” but another saying that it “occasionally soars” and is even “entertaining.”

With reviews accumulating to 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes by Friday, many critique the story line of the film, which follows a small town certified public accountant who cooks the books for dangerous criminals. Others, however, claim that it’s an “effective and even affecting pop thriller,” while applauding Affleck’s and J.K. Simmons‘ performances.

Meanwhile, TheWrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde thought that the “silliness” and “ludicrousness” of the film didn’t stop the film from being fun.

“Audiences willing to just go with the movie’s outlandish lead character will find laughs and thrills along the way, as well as that rarest of studio properties: a tentpole that actually leaves you enthusiastic about the prospect of a sequel,” he wrote in his review.

The film also stars Anna Kendrick, Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor.

See five positive and five negative reviews below.

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle:
“For about an hour of running time, there’s an expectation that ‘The Accountant’ will eventually make some sense. This is followed by a half hour of doubt, 10 minutes of confusion and, finally, the funny feeling of having been the victim of a practical joke. Much of it is enjoyable and has the aura of a superior action film, but it collapses into a laughable wreck and ultimately reveals itself as a mild waste of two hours.”

Mark Hughes, Forbes:
“Exciting, sometimes funny, and with several appealing performances in a story about human connection and loss and how we strive to feel complete and make sense of our lives, it’s an enjoyable action movie worth thinking and talking about afterward with friends. And it’s hopefully the start of a new franchise that will find ways to continue what worked the first time around and fix those things that didn’t.”

Michael Roffman, Consequence of Sound:
“‘Calculate your choices.’ That’s the tagline for Gavin O’Connor’s predictably dumb action thriller ‘The Accountant.’ Yet it’s also soluble advice that screenwriter Bill Dubuque could have heeded before sitting down to write the damn story, because this 128-minute slog from Warner Bros. is not only as boring and forgettable as its yawn-worthy title suggests, it’s as messy and uneven as the studio’s recent slate of blockbusters.”

John Anderson, Wall Street Journal:
“‘The Accountant,’ which stars Mr. Affleck as a math savant/marksman/martial artist who uncooks books and kicks backsides, is an effective and even affecting pop thriller.”

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger:
“[O’Connor’s] movies have gotten consistently worse and ‘The Accountant’ is a low point. And not surprisingly, in a shoot-em-up with a huge body count, nothing escapes unmarked — even the actors’ reputations.”

J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader:
“For an action picture, this is uncommonly crafty and observant, offering rich supporting roles to J.K. Simmons as a cowardly Treasury agent and John Lithgow as the corrupt head of the firm. The gallows humor is nicely pitched, and no movie has ever done more with the stock character of a comical hit man (nicely played by Jon Bernthal).”

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic:
“The script, by Bill Dubuque, goes sideways in a hurry. Characters do inexplicable things for no reason other than advancing the plot, and sometimes not even that. There is a jaw-dropping coincidence that is as ridiculous as it is obvious. Surely there is more to it than just … that? Nope. In short, it’s a smart idea turned into a dumb movie. ‘The Accountant’ — apologies in advance — just doesn’t add up.”

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“The title character of ‘The Accountant’ may not be the first investigator who falls somewhere on the autism spectrum — think Tony Shalhoub in TV’s ‘Monk’ or the many incarnations of Sherlock Holmes for that matter — but he is one of the most enjoyable. So much so that watching Ben Affleck‘s Christian Wolff make numbers do his bidding as he grapples with a world he isn’t completely at home in, not to mention a rising body count, is so entertaining it’s hard not to wonder if Warner Bros. has a sequel in the works. Wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

Matt Prigge, Metro:
“Every scene and shot is meticulous, but not in a way that draws you in; it’s suffocating, like a politician trying to defend Obamacare in the 30 seconds before the buzzer. Every important element appears to be there — a story that (eventually) makes sense, some fine actors, a ‘John Wick’-level of head-shots — but everything’s so crammed and asphyxiating you can’t help leave wondering if the filmmakers wanted you to think this was meant to launch a franchise or what in the hell.”

Peter Howell, Toronto Star:
“It’s a movie that’s easy to mock. But it never bores and it occasionally soars. This may explain why Bill Dubuque’s screenplay landed on The Black List of hot Hollywood properties a few years back and why so many talented actors eventually signed up to be part of it, with the up-for-anything Gavin O’Connor (‘Warrior’) at the helm … Affleck makes passivity magnetic as he negotiates ever-shifting situations and dispatches foes with a ruthlessness James Bond would applaud.”