The Accountant (Gavin O’Connor, 2016)
Ben Affleck is The Accountant. The film’s title doesn’t exactly evoke much excitement, but like every other film this year, it can’t be any worse than the snooze-fest that was Batman V Superman.
Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a high-functioning autistic man working as a forensic accountant in Illinois. When he’s not writing numbers all over windows or engaging in obsessive rituals he kills bad guys. It’s an unusual mix and some have gone as far to say that this film gives kids an autistic superhero. Yeah, because all kids want to watch a film called The Accountant.
Unfortunately, the film, like its subject, tries to do too much. Flashbacks to Christian’s childhood give the film promise, namely his father’s reluctance to get him appropriate intervention, instead choosing to pummel him with martial arts training. As an adult, this trauma weighs heavily on Christian, and his rituals and individual quirks make for interesting viewing. But then the financial jargon starts and the guns come out and it’s all over red rover.
Just because Affleck writes numbers all over the windows of an office with multiple pens doesn’t mean that finance suddenly becomes interesting. Bill Dubuque’s screenplay lost this viewer quickly and even her girl crush Anna Kendrick couldn’t salvage it. You’d expect that the action component would wake viewers up but director Gavin O’Connor has made a film that feels all over the place. As a result it doesn’t grab you by the balls the way it should. The way the action sequences are cut are exhausting to watch and as a thriller the plot becomes too convoluted. It’s a film that doesn’t seem to know quite what it wants to be.
Despite its problems, The Accountant showcases Ben Affleck’s talents as an actor. While the screenplay sometimes feels like it’s trying to be a little too Rain Man-esque he nails it in the more subtle moments – a little clearing of the throat here, an awkward expression there. Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, John Lithgow and Jon Bernthal are all fine in supporting roles, but they’re essentially bit roles in a film that’s really meant to be about The Accountant.
Overall, the film does have its moments, but when you spend much of the film thinking how well J.K. Simmons pulls off the shaved head look, it doesn’t bode well. You shouldn’t always judge a film by its title, but in this case it’s an accurate representation of how exciting it gets.
This review was first published at Film Blerg.