The Bock’s Office: Action movie ‘The Accountant’ doesn’t add up
All minds are different, that much we know by now, as science has moved to the point where most people can accept there’s no one way to process thoughts and actions. Nevertheless, there’s still no telling what the makers of “The Accountant” were thinking while in development.
If you go…
“The Accountant,” rated R
Rating: 2 out of 4 stars
Running time: 128 minutes
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons and Jon Bernthal
Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.
To look at him, one wouldn’t think anything unusual about Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) other than he’s a whiz with numbers, has a laser-like attention to detail, and he’s not much for small talk or intimacy.
Even so, the man who seems perfectly ordinary and acceptably boring has a number of secrets, among them the fact that a US Treasury Department agent (JK Simmons) and his associate (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) are hot on his trail for his financial work with numerous notorious personalities around the globe, though without many leads on his actual identity.
Christian’s latest project is for a seemingly squeaky-clean robotics company, where he is assisted by the firm’s number-cruncher (Anna Kendrick) in deciphering the books. When the two find a discrepancy, they may have put themselves in danger, but Christian’s dark past and preparedness for such an incident will provide all the protection they need.
Affleck is frighteningly convincing as a man who is pure ice on the surface, rarely smiling, unperturbed by others’ reactions to shocking news and a perfect embodiment of a calculating killer who hides behind the aliases of history’s greatest mathematicians.
Simmons is good as ever as G-Man Raymond King, who has been chasing him for years, certain he is the one behind a brutal slaying of a mafia family a decade previously.
Curiously, it’s not until King brings in a new set of eyes — blackmailing an analyst with a shady record — that he starts to make some progress. Because it’s just that hard to look up blatantly obvious clues on the internet.
Jon Bernthal and John Lithgow balance out Affleck’s coldness — Bernthal as the charismatic, jovial, nameless hit man who has Christian and his new reluctant love interest in his sights and Lithgow as the warm-hearted CEO of a groundbreaking business that makes mechanical prosthetics for amputees.
With flashbacks to our hero’s traumatic childhood and a father (Robert C. Treveiler) who insists on “fixing” him, it’s not that complicated to determine why Christian is the way he is as an adult, at least if you have the slightest knowledge of developmental disorders.
Thankfully, about midway through, the phrase “high-functioning autism” is finally said aloud, but Christian seems to be all over the spectrum from his aversion to bright lights and loud noises to a rigorous daily routine — no one makes fried eggs that systematically — to an obsessive need to finish what he starts, nearly losing his mind as a kid over a missing jigsaw puzzle piece.
This portrayal of a person who’s been conditioned to conform his mind just enough to be useful to society has a thoughtful approach in trying to show the autistic community as capable of anything and complex human beings.
The whole thing starts off amicably but comes apart during a denouement that’s just ludicrous, and overall the execution is unthinking and often damaging, as if someone pitched the idea, “What if Raymond Babbitt and Jason Bourne switched places?”
To its credit, “The Accountant” is enriched by Affleck taking his role seriously, but that’s not worth as much when the rest of the movie is at best uneven and at worst meaningless. If you find yourself tapping your fingers compulsively while watching, you’re not the only one.
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