DIR: Gavin O’Connor • WRI: Bill Dubuque • PRO: Lynette Howell Taylor, Mark Williams • DOP: Seamus McGarvey • ED: Richard Pearson • DES: Keith P. Cunningham • MUS: Mark Isham • CAST: Anna Kendrick, Ben Affleck, Jon Bernthal
After Ron Howard’s Dan Brown adaptation Inferno, I didn’t think there could possibly be a film released the same year that made less sense. Boy, was I wrong. The Accountant stars Ben Affleck as Christian Woolf, a sufferer of high-functioning autism who uses his disability to engage in the titular profession for shady businesses on both sides of the law. He is employed by Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow), the head of a robotics corporation, to sort out mysterious discrepancies in his company’s accounts. Meanwhile, Woolf’s previous dealings with various gangsters and drug dealers provoke the attention of the Treasury Department, fronted by Ray King (Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons).
The film isn’t completely devoid of pleasures. Affleck, although arguably a little too glamorous to play a social misfit, puts in a very committed performance, never just relying upon ticks to portray his affliction. Through the way he holds himself or his subtle but pained grimace during social interactions, the viewer is immersed in his struggle. In fact, the acting all round – Jon Bernthal (Netflix’s Daredevil), Jean Smart (FX’s Fargo) and Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) in particular – manages to fool the audience, at least in the first third, into thinking that the film has a brain in its head.
However, once one realises that everything which occurs in Bill Dubuque’s script relies completely on coincidence, the movie falls horrendously apart. The plot by the writer (who also wrote the similarly scattershot The Judge) makes no sense, particularly in its final third, where it drops not one, not two, but three insanely illogical twists – one of which had the audience I saw the film with guffawing at the outrageousness of it all. Director Gavin O’Connor does himself no favours too, editing the latter sequence like a comedy.
The film isn’t dull exactly, as there is enough serviceable action and good acting to retain a fast momentum. However, it’s so unexciting to have two characters engage in a ten-minute plot exposition loaded conversation as a means of explaining the entire backstory of the central character.
It’s disappointing because there is something extraordinary sounding about a film where a child overcomes his autism by studying martial arts and maths, using these three characteristics to become a superhero of sorts. However, by over-complicating, while simultaneously dumbing down, the story and by adding too many extraneous characters, The Accountant underserves a decent sounding premise.
15A (See IFCO for details)
The Accountant is released 4th November 2016