Film Review: The Accountant
Crunching Numbers Never Looked So Brutal.
You know what is better than an action-crime drama thriller? An action-crime drama thriller starring the current Batman in the title role, who just so happens to be a fellow Cantabrigian and alumnus of your high school (GO FALCONS!). Okay, I’m done fan-boying, critic mode is now on. "The Accountant" is an action-crime thriller that tells the story of Christian Wolff (Affleck), an autistic mathematical genius, who works as a Certified Public Accountant for criminal enterprises around the world. Underneath that, he is also a ruthless hitman. "The Accountant" was directed by Gavin O’Connor on a screenplay penned by Bill Dubuque, with a strong cast starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson. "The Accountant" nobly attempts to stand as one of the first action films in recent memory to feature a protagonist with a mental disability.
It, however, fails to reach its intended goals - that a person with autism or any mental disability can be a badass too. I, for one, totally believe that they can. However, when you put an actor, such as Affleck, in a role of an autistic character, then it is, essentially, the same as casting a white actor in the role of an Egyptian pharaoh or a Japanese manga character. How many autistic people are out there with Olympian-level physiques and statures? Not much, so right off the bat (no pun intended) the film comes off as unrealistic. Still, I do commend O'Conner for trying to pay homage to the mentally disabled community; one that, generally, has been grossly underrepresented and stereotypically portrayed in cinematic works simultaneously. Aside from Affleck's respectable performance, he had little help from his cast mates, but the onus is on Dubuque for that one. Simply put, the screenplay underutilized Mr. Simmons, who deserved better than being reduced to an onscreen narrator; that is pretty much all he does, explain things to his protege played by Cynthia Addai-Robinson. While the venerable presence of Mr. Tambor and Mr. Lithgow, respectively, helped give the film a sense of sound stability, it was Mr. Bernthal's visibility and performance that kept the onscreen staleness at bay (if you have not seen him in Netflix's "Daredevil," do yourself a favor and watch it).
Despite the film's tendency to lull you to sleep for large portions at a time, "The Accountant" still had sporadic moments of quality entertainment. Though not a great film as a whole, it does manage to eke out what is, arguably, Affleck's best acting effort since Argo. Directionally, O'Conner, on the other hand, stumbles in the third act by closing the film like a nicely wrapped Christmas present complete with a bow. The packaging was fine, but once you open it, you find a measly pair of socks, instead of that new XBOX One game you were hoping for.
A spoonful of dissatisfaction, with a sprinkle of annoyance, in "The Empire Strikes Back" kind of way ignite in your head as the end credits roll. And, ultimately, give birth to exactly what you feel, and think, as you walk out of the theatre after watching this movie. Something along the lines of..."What? That's it?!"