We know from the poster that the titular accountant is a bit more than that; but even the alternative title The Autistic Assassin could have been more interesting than yet another middle-aged-guy-with-guns thriller we get by Act Three.
What begins as a promising drama of an autistic man with a troubled upbringing, Christian Wolff (double-f, presumably in sheep’s clothing, ha-ha) has Ben Affleck (BvS:DoJ, Gone Girl), pitching for Rain Man accolades. But his fledgeling romance with Anna Kendrick’s office worker soon descends into ho-hum action cliché. At least it’s not Taken or Costner’s Criminal enterprise.
The early scenes play well with flashbacks to a difficult childhood and a hard father in army intelligence with a ‘unique’ approach to dealing with his older son’s autism. With Rain Man numerical brilliance, the ex-con Wolff becomes the numbers man to various criminal cartels, attracting the attention of a veteran Treasury agent J.K. Simmons (Whiplash, Juno), and his unwilling protegé (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), both largely wasted.
As it turns out in Simmons’s hulking chunk of Basil Exposition in Act Two, our accountant has an interesting moral perspective and has fed the ‘brilliant’ late-blooming agent all his successful case leads for years. I say ‘interesting moral perspective’ since our accountant has made himself independently wealthy off the back of criminal cartels, whilst at the same time having no issues with ‘liquidating’ their assets with military efficiency. By which we mean a preference for John Wick levels of bone breakage and head shots with an assortment of weapons.
So having taken yet another dubious client in John Lithgow’s robotics genius and outward philanthropist – Lithgow doing one of those ambiguous cameos – it comes down to a Jack Reacher-style cat and mouse game between Wolff and his criminal nemesis (John Berthnal).
By this time Kendrick has become just another damsel in distress, although the final shoot-out is remarkably restrained for this kind of genre picture. There are a couple of predictable twists along the way – just who is Berthnal’s hired gun and who is on the end of Wolff’s electronic-voiced help-mate – but nothing to elevate this out of genre-mediocrity. Both writer Bill Dubeque and director Gavin O’Connor build on their gritty pot-boiler movies from which nothing really stands out.
All credit to the cast; Affleck is fully committed; Kendrick, Lithgow, Simmons, Addai-Robinson and Berthnal support well; but ultimately they are all better than the material, where autism is just another hook to temporarily lift a standard action thriller out of the mundane. RC
The Accountant (2016)
Genre: Action, thriller
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque
Running time: 128 minutes
Cast: Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, John Lithgow, Anna Kendrick, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Berthnal