On the surface, The Accountant feels like a movie custom-made for positive reception.
This crime film follows a math prodigy named Christian Wolff (Affleck) who works in accounting but also does bookkeeping for various criminal organizations around the world. It stars many usually reliable and likeable actors like Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons and Anna Kendrick, and utilizes its longer running time to develop the characters and make them worthy of emotional investment. Additionally, it’s all very well-directed, shot, and features that ultraviolent, bone-crunching brand of Daredevil-esque action that I know and love so dearly. On top of all of that, this movie stars a socially awkward protagonist beating the life out of a bunch of bad guys in the name of self-defense and protecting others – my kind of film.
Beyond his finance skills, Wolff also has a very impressive collection of weapons and skillful martial arts training imparted to him by his ex-military father. The hook is that Wolff’s unparalleled skills with math and numbers comes from his high-functioning form of autism that allows him to process information and data differently than a normal person would. Once he undertakes a job investigating the books for a robotics company, attempts are made on his life and Wolff must use all his skills to uncover the mystery, all while flashbacks reveal Wolff’s upbringing and two government agents (J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai Robinson) try to uncover his true identity and capture him.
Most of the performances in the film are engaging in their own right, especially Anna Kendrick’s as an introverted in-house accountant who forms an unorthodox friendship with Affleck’s character, but the main showstopper in The Accountant is Ben Affleck himself as the titular character. He’s outstanding in this and it might actually be his best performance (Yes, god help me, better than Batman).
Affleck has always had a bit of a reputation of being somewhat of a limited instrument when it comes to acting, what with some more than questionable performances in films like Pearl Harbor and Gigli, but the way Affleck gives Wolff a quiet, introverted, and socially awkward demeanor as a result of the character’s autism while still being engaging and worth emotional investment is truly something to behold. His subtle and understated performance really sells how he wants to interact with people but his autism and his social awkwardness prevent him from doing so.
One of the most remarkable and respectable things about The Accountant is the way it depicts autism. On the whole, Hollywood isn’t the best at portraying mental handicaps (especially autism), usually having characters act completely over the top and attaching negative stigmas to people who actually have those afflictions. But to my surprise, all the people who portray autism in this film, be it in flashbacks of Wolff’s childhood or his adult life, actually portray the disorder with a lot of realism and tastefulness.
The Accountant is not an excellent film. At times the tone meanders from gravely serious to comedic and heartwarming – especially in the third act. There’s also a glaringly large exposition dump around that point in the film, and those two aspects don’t meld as well as they probably should. But honestly, I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I’d say definitely give it a look.
photo source: Tribute