Engaging, well-paced if slightly misguided thriller.
This isn’t the first time a character with autism has been portrayed with near super-human abilities. 1988’s Rain Man gave us Dustin Hoffman’s understated math-whizz; The Accountant does the same with Ben Affleck, although he couples his arithmetic with John Wick-like abilities.
Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is an accountant, who uses his small-town firm as a front for frying bigger fish; international arms dealer’s accounts. However, when a treasury investigator (J.K Simmons) starts focusing more on Wolff’s work, he takes on a less shady contract, although more is at stake than anticipated.
We open with a scene of a presumed young Affleck starting a jigsaw. His older brother sits bored, observing. His parents chat with a specialist about their child’s condition, who ‘doesn’t like to put a label on things’. Then, the young boy starts panicking – he’s missing a piece of his jigsaw and can’t finish. This scene, among other little details about Wolff’s autism, are spot on. As well as being accurate, each routine makes you sympathise with the character, whether it is keeping his food separate, or blowing the tips of his fingers.
Soon though, these traits are switched and forgotten when Wolff transforms into a killer. It’s all a little unbelievable, but the action itself is entertaining (with the exemption of one Quantum of Solace-esque shaky cam sequence) . His skills are supported with a hard-done-by backstory. His father, a soldier, believed the best way for his son to get past his insecurities and reluctance to certain activities was to face them dead on, with a side of hardcore military training.
Affleck’s withdrawn, believable yet transformable performance keeps The Accountant on its toes, despite his character being a bit of a contradiction. Supporting Affleck is J.K Simmons, who is still bouncing off his signature Whiplash atomic-performance, hones in on a similar personality, albeit not as explosive. Anna Kendrick isn’t hugely important but still feels essential, and Jon Bernthal plays an up-beat Punisher.
When the film focuses on Affleck we’re continually drawn in, but when storylines continually sprout, interest fades. Convoluted plot lines are a problem, as well as the odd twist which unfortunately are as predictable as Wolff’s daily routines.
To sum it up…
Hugely fun and high octane, The Accountant shines with Affleck leading the charge, but a disjointed plot creates more confusion than intrigue.
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Author: Cameron Frew