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The Accountant - the movie

02 November 2016

THE ACCOUNTANT - reviewed by ACCA PQ Craig Coda

It is said that there are only two things that are certain in life: death and taxes. The Accountant’s Christian Wolff (played by Ben Affleck), however, has mastered the evasion of both. He’s a stereotypical ‘accountant’, with a deadly obsession to get the job done.

Affleck as Wolff has all of the wit and charisma of, well... an accountant (as some might say). Contrary to popular belief, accountants do sometimes need to interact with other humans, be they clients, bosses or colleagues, and his go-to resolution to client disagreement—an overly powerful weapon—is not a desirable method of retaining long term clients, particularly with potential future changes to client rotation legislation.
However as an aspiring accountant myself, I was left in envy at the technical genius of Christian Wolff.

Imagining what Wolff could achieve in the real world with his single-handed Good Will Hunting-meets-Mensa-member approach to investigating 15 years of a blue chip company’s accounts. Recent headline investigations—BHS, Tesco or Deutsche Bank to name a few—leave me with the feeling that the world could do with a few more Christian Wolffs.

Hollywood tropes (gun toting and glass-wall-writing) aside, he demonstrates the drive and determination of an investigative accountant perfectly.

Accountants aren’t limited to just the figures – the figures are a starting point from which we must solve, deduce, investigate and communicate to guide companies along a strategic, and ethical, financial course. Wolff’s ethics are somewhat dubious, but he does bring to light the absolute value of accounting expertise in holding companies, and employees, to account.

But back to the film: it’s an enjoyable watch which packs in so much more than just an accountant with an itchy trigger finger. There’s action, dark suspense and laugh-out-loud moments, not to mention the love story between Christian and fellow accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick).

The Accountant was, from my point of view at least, a brilliant movie. It’s entertaining, challenging and does leave you with something to think about. It’s accounting’s turn to be given the Hollywood treatment, and despite his many flaws, I am glad that Christian Wolff was able to demonstrate some of the important, even fun, parts of the profession that I love.

It was nice to leave the cinema and remember that Christian Wolff is a fictional character. There is a strict code of ethics for all real life accountants to abide by, so you are at little risk of finding yourself running for the door at your next consultation.

****I give it four checks and balances out of five.

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