The Accountant (2016)



The accountant must be the most involving film about accountancy ever made. Ben Affleck plays an autistic man, Christian Wolff, who found his own niche as an accountant for international criminals. Here he can use both his total disinterest in human affairs and his obsessive attention for facts and numbers. Somehow, The Accountant manages to combine the Jason Bourne films with A Beautiful Mind. When Ben is hired to spit through the accounts of a company, you even hear that clockwork music that James Horner wrote for A Beautiful Mind.

It can be no coincidence that the company that Christian is investigating is called Living Robotics, ‘cause that is how he behaves. There is even a shot where Christian talks with the CEO, and behind them there are a human and robot hand touching fingers, of course with the robot hand being on Christian’s side. Meanwhile, gangsters are on the prowl, and an investigator from the Treasury is on Christian’s tail.

All very stiff and heavy stuff, but it’s a strangely calming film for a thriller. I’m not sure if the form of autism portrayed here and how Christian deals with it actually exist in this way, or are overly dramatized. Autism is quickly equated to a knack for mathematics in this film. What is dramatized in a rather unrealistic way are the flashbacks of Christian’s life. Ultimately, the autism is more like a gimmick to create the story. But that’s quite a risk to take for a screenwriter when you think about it, because it’s making an action thriller with the handicap of having a lifeless lead man.

When Anna Kendrick shows up with a nerdy cuteness, she’s very welcome to add some life to the movie. A fellow accountant from Living Robotics, she has stuff in common with Christian but quickly finds herself nearly kidnapped by the criminals chasing him. I also appreciated J.K. Simmons and Jeffrey Tambor a lot as side characters. The film gets a lot of mileage out of its side characters. Lifts the whole thing up to a consistently interesting viewing experience.

Overall, not too bad. Except that Kendrick disappears halfway through the film. She’s there for some quick scenes that promise a much larger role, but then the story moves on and seems to put her aside. The Accountant is a bit uneven like that in its storytelling.

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