UK Release Date: 4th November 2016
Runtime: 128 minutes
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, JK Simmons, John Lithgow, Cynthia Addai-Robinson
Synopsis: An autistic accountant, who also works with some very dangerous people, gets to the heart of a robotics company that has some financial discrepancies in its accounts.
What I think is the most satisfying thing about the ongoing ‘Benaissance’ – a mash-up of ‘Ben’ and ‘renaissance’, you’re welcome – is that Ben Affleck has truly discovered who he is as an actor. Like Ryan Reynolds needed to shake the traditional leading man trope off to be embraced as Hollywood’s most supreme comedic talent, Affleck has shaken off his leading man heyday of Armageddon to be embraced as the limited, wooden actor he has always been. This is no severe criticism. It works in the right roles like Gone Girl, Argo and his early Kevin Smith work and Affleck has talent in spades in writing and directing.
In The Accountant, Affleck plays the eponymous money man, otherwise known as Christian Wolff, a man with autism – often treated as Hollywood’s favourite superpower – who does complicated banking and auditing for shady organisations across the globe, and also a local tech giant. Through this, he meets businessman Lamar Black (John Lithgow) and young accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick). He’s also being chased by JK Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson as government operatives because… well, just because really. Aside from his skills with numbers, Wolff is also a highly trained, brutal soldier in the clear mold of John Wick, but with less facial hair.
To a certain extent, aspects of this movie work. Affleck is fine in the role, even though it is limited to the Hollywood trope of making autism completely awesome because you can memorise everything, or funny because it makes him awkward around women. I don’t want to be a person who says what year it is indignantly… but it’s 2016. The plot of this movie is in no way enabled by the fact that the main character has autism. It’s simply a cheap trope that diminishes the reality of the condition to communicate to audiences ‘this is why he’s so good at everything’.
The main issue with The Accountant is that its architects appear to get bored with each idea they have and move swiftly on to another. This is partly a tale of brotherly reunification, a tale of corporate espionage, a tale of awkward romantic comedy, a coming of age story about a man with severe social anxiety becoming more outward looking, and part brutal action flick.
Taken individually, many of these aspects, aside from the pursuit of the main character by JK Simmons which is a slow conduit to expose more about Affleck’s character than we probably needed, do work. However in one movie that was apparently not eight hours long, which is what it felt like, it’s all too much.
The tone is all over the place. The plot is borderline incomprehensible and most of all nothing the movie wants to do feels earned. Throughout, we are treated to family flashbacks illustrating how Wolff got to be this way, which suggests some depth to the character. However, flashbacks have to be earned. They have to contribute to what we are seeing in the present time, or the present time has to be so interesting you want to know how you got there. This movie fails to achieve either; and a failure at achieving its aims is probably the best way to describe this dismal movie.
Pop or Poop?
Ben Affleck’s career revival comes to a thudding halt with The Accountant, which is a limp thriller with far too many ideas and a desire to use any and all of the material the filmmakers have at their disposal. The performances are fine, but the incomprehensible plot is simply too much to stomach.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.