Title: The Accountant
Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:
Bill: Krusty, as your accountant, I must warn you...
Krusty: Did you send those thousand roses to Bea Arthur's grave?
Brief Plot Synopsis: Savant supplies solvency, savate.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two Finns (the Human) out of five.
Tagline: "Calculate your choices."
Better Tagline: "One in 68 children in this country has a chance to become a superhuman assassin."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a man of many talents...well, two anyway: accounting and violence. He makes a good living as financial fixer for the biggest scumbags around, but in order to lower his profile, he's taken on a legitimate client, a robotics company with an accounting glitch detected by one of its new employees (Anna Kendrick). And all that still might not be enough for Wolff to elude a dogged Treasury director (J.K. Simmons) or a mysterious mercenary (Jon Bernthal).
"Critical" Analysis: If you could remove The Accountant from its off-putting central conceit — that certain high-functioning autistic individuals might be able to channel their obsessive nature into becoming perfect killing machines — then you might find it fairly entertaining; a gritty actioner with elements of financial mystery. The Bourne Short, maybe. Or Margin Call (of Duty).
It's even understandable, to an extent, that a movie like this would come along now. Nearly 30 years have passed since Dustin Hoffman counted cards in Rain Main, after all, and the autism epidemic of the past few decades has seen an uptick in the number of movie and TV characters on the spectrum. It was inevitable that we'd get an action hero like Christian Wolff.
Which would possibly be cause to celebrate, except autism isn't a superpower.
Because make no mistake: Wolff essentially *is* a superhero: Not only is he one of the top mathematical minds on the planet (à la Mr. Fantastic or Hank "Beast" McCoy), he's also lethal at hand-to-hand combat and highly proficient with small arms, and is a master sniper to boot. He also has a superfortress of sorts: a "Camper of Solitude" where he keeps his armory, stash of liquid currency and passports, and — no shit — a Renoir, a Jackson Pollock and a copy of Action Comics #1.
Wolff even has an origin story. After his diagnosis, young Christian's mom abandons the family and his military dad decides a good way to get him to learn how to cope with the real world is to teach him Indonesian pencak silat and have him beat the shit out of would-be tormentors. Who knows? Maybe this is a form of autism therapy insurance companies might actually pay for.
It's not all bad. Gavin O'Connor (Warrior) knows his way around a fight scene, and you've got J.K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick and John Lithgow classing up the joint (plus Jon Bernthal keeping it somewhat unhinged). There are a handful of laughs (as well as, judging by the preview screening, quite a few more inappropriate ones), keeping things lighter than Affleck's other 2016 foray into superheroics (Batman v Superman).
Unfortunately, Affleck isn't a good enough actor to pull this off. His taciturn style would seem to be a decent fit for a character who has difficulty with emotion, but he lets the facade slip too much, especially in the scenes with Kendrick. We only intermittently buy into his portrayal, which is more OCD than ASD, and this is even more apparent when compared to the performance of Seth Lee, who plays "Young Chris" with more authenticity.
You may enjoy The Accountant. You may even be able to do so in spite of the stupidity of its assertions. Perhaps it will spark a new trend in movies and TV shows featuring characters dubiously spurred to great deeds by their debilitating neurological disorders.
Now stay tuned for Law & Order: ALS, premiering on NBC in 2017.
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