Director: Gavin O’Connor.
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow.
DC were already having regrets about their spin-off film Batman Does His Tax.
BEN Affleck has been on a roll in recent years.
He directed an Oscar-winning film (Argo), worked with auteur directors Terrence Malick and David Fincher, was perfect in Gone Girl, and was a great Batman and the best thing about Batman V Superman.
Flush with success, he’s now cherry-picking roles in between directing gigs and suiting up as the Dark Knight.
Case in point is the part of Christian Wolff in The Accountant, which on paper is a knockout – the autistic bookkeeper who’s secretly a cold-blooded killer.
Unfortunately that paper is stapled into a cumbersome script overladen with superfluous subplots and ungainly twists, resulting in an overlong mismatch of ideas surrounding a cool character.
The plot, which doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, sees Wolff hired by prosthetics guru Lamar Blackburn (Lithgow) to find the millions of dollars that have been leaking from his company.
For some reason, this puts him in the crosshairs of some cold-blooded killers. Meanwhile, the Treasury Department is closing in on Wolff for his role in “uncooking the books” for a number of nefarious drug cabals and warlords.
The idea of an accountant with high functioning autism who is also a lethal weapon and who jets into international hotspots to do some highly illegal number-crunching for drug lords and terrorists is a tantalising set-up for a film. Sadly, this is not that film. In The Accountant, we see the fallout from Wolff’s career of doing such things, but none of the actual things. While there is still plenty of number-crunching and lethal-weaponing, it’s as a result of a far less interesting plot that’s riddled with as many holes as the foot soldiers Wolff guns down in the climax.
Bill Dubuque’s script is full by good ideas but the result is messy. An entire subplot with Simmons and Addai-Robinson as Treasury Department officers is supposed to be enriching but is ultimately superfluous – all it does is highlight the film’s inability to commit to making Wolff a man with a grey moral code.
Affleck is fine in what is an interesting role, although how much you enjoy the film will hinge on how credible you find the character. Kendrick is shoehorned in as a love interest of sorts, but seems to have wandered in from another movie with her typical “adorkableness” undimmed. She’s almost comic relief, which is much needed but so fleeting that it just leaves Kendrick seeming out of place.
And then there are the twists, which are tricky beasts to wrangle. The Accountant is a good example of this – a couple of plot maneuvres at the film’s end are dead on arrival, but a very minor one right before the credits is a neat touch.
For Affleck fans, this is worthwhile, but beyond that, it's only a sporadically intriguing investment of your time.
Unlike its lead character, The Accountant can’t get all its numbers in a row or balance its books properly.