Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a mathematics savant who uses his talents to uncook the books of various criminal enterprises, but with a Treasury agent (J.K. Simmons) hot on his heels, he takes on a legitimate client, only to find that it might be just as dangerous. Directed by Gavin O’Connor, written by Bill Bubuque and also starring: Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow, Jean Smart and Andy Umberger.
Taking on a role of a character who has autism is not the easiest of things to do, it has to be portrayed in a way that is not offensive nor derogatory or clichéd but a genuine version of what someone with that condition may go through; by all accounts Affleck did a rather impressive job on that front, possibly the most impressive thing about this performance. The rest of it however, it feels ironically comfortable, something that Affleck is utterly capable of doing and isn’t really stretching or pushing himself, it is good work from him but it’s nothing exceptional unfortunately. It’s also difficult to pick another significant cast member to talk about, Kendrick’s role is limited, she disappears after a while and despite the character’s genuine intelligence, it still feels like a damsel in distress, she may help with numbers but she’s certainly not there to help Wolff do any of the other more dangerous tasks. It’s a shame really, because her presence and interaction with Affleck are both pleasing to watch. Simmons is also good but again gives us something which feels comfortable and known, it is extra enjoyable for those thinking about his upcoming portrayal of Commissioner Gordon in Justice League; alternatively he also looks like the character has been plucked from The Adjustment Bureau.
The film however isn’t quite exactly what you’d expect, it has a mixture of several different tones which make it feel uncertain of what it’s trying to mix, it has action and danger, it also has elements of crime and chase, a dash of thriller and a heavy pinch of sarcasm and humour. The last of which is actually a benefit to the film, the occasionally awkward, but appropriately so, jokes are highlights of the film, it gives it a sense of charisma and had it chosen to follow that route to its entirety and made something not quite a comedy but consistently funny as well as chock full of action, it could have made up for the elements its sorely missing. Namely, a decent story, the film has just massive storytelling issues and the gaps are being plugged with slight twists and turns which do not mask the fact that there’s very little going on, what you think is going to be a beginning to launch into a more complex plot, is actually the entire plot. This makes the film feel somewhat cheap at times, it just isn’t going that extra mile which is contradictory to the fact that visually it is pleasing, full credit to which should go to cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, who also worked on the upcoming Nocturnal Animals. The other part which makes this film visually pleasing is the stunts; there’s a real fluidity and precision to them which prevents the movements from feeling fractured or separate, it’s all one perfectly choreographed sequence in each instance, which probably has a lot to do with stunt co-ordinator Fernando Chien, who has also worked on the last two Captain America films.
Overall the film has a lot of problems, which sadly isn’t surprising from director O’Connor given that his last cinematic effort was the abysmal Jane Got a Gun, a film that followed exactly the same path as this one, it’s enjoyable to watch but it is missing a lot of quality, although to be clear The Accountant is much more enjoyable than Jane Got a Gun. It has its benefits and it would be difficult to definitively say that it’s not worth watching, it is but it’s remarkably easy to say that with a more accomplished team leading the charge it could have been something much better rather than what it actually feels like, which is an origin story.