Director: Gavin O’Connor
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, John Lithgow
Watch The Accountant online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Take one Ben Affleck, add some action, multiply it by Anna Kendrick and you have the formula for a solid B-movie thriller. Divide it by bad dialogue and subtract a whole lot of common sense and you get The Accountant. The film, which blasted its way into cinemas at the end of 2016, is a strange beast, combining a drama about Asperger’s Syndrome and childhood trauma with financial conspiracies, socially awkward romance and a whole host of contrived backstories.
Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, an accountant for some truly dodgy firms, with a knack for covering his paper trail. With the Treasury Department beginning to work out who he is and what he does, though, he takes on a new client – a legitimate company, who have discovered that their books are out by a large sum of money. Needless to say, it’s not just been accidentally misplaced, and Christian and Dana (Kendrick), the accountant who first noticed the deficit, soon find themselves targeted by some Not Very Nice Men with Guns, as the embezzlers try to cover their tracks.
Fortunately, Wolff is as good with a gun as he is with mental arithmetic – because The Accountant is the kind of film that can’t just have a maths savant as its hero, but needs to have a gun savant too. It’s a curious idea, attempting to turn a character’s high-functioning autism into some kind of violent superpower, but it’s as uneven as it sounds, less because of that almost-empowering concept and more because of everything else it tries to throw in to justify it. Why is he a natural at hand-to-hand and trigger-based combat? Because his dad was a strict believer in tough therapy, leaving him used to being exposed to stressful situations. Oh, and trained by martial arts monks.
Affleck is on fine form as the reticent Wolff, not making eye contact with people and pistol-whipping bad guys with the kind of physicality that’s made him such an intimidating (if not exactly likeable) Batman. And the always-excellent Kendrick brings genuine charm to a role that she’s been offered too many times before. But their fledgling romance is as out of place as John Lithgow’s attempts to make us feel sympathy for a suspicious chief executive. JK Simmons’ Treasury agent, meanwhile, might as well be in another film entirely – one scene late on sees the man hunting Wolff given a dramatic monologue to explain his motivations, a too-clunky-too-late attempt to give Simmons something to do. Cynthia Addai-Robinson, his sidekick, is just as wasted.
There’s a final act showdown with another gun-toting vigilante – played with some menace by Daredevil’s Jon Bernthal – but cheesy revelations that try to relate all these subplots to each other leave the whole thing bordering on laughable. For a film that seems to pride itself on moving past cliches of autism, there isn’t much logic on display, as things veer from violent to sentimental at an alarming speed. And, just in case things weren’t disjointed enough, things pause every 15 minutes so Wolff can sit in a dark room with flashing lights and loud music. Its heart may be in the right place, but even with the intriguing factor of a sequel taken into your calculations, The Accountant just doesn’t add up.
The Accountant is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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