Few directors have ever tried to sex-up accounting – the profession doesn’t lend itself to glamour or heroism. However, Gavin O’Connor does somewhat pull it off in his latest feature, The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck as Chris, the high-functioning, hench, autistic man of numbers. When he is called in to look over the accounts of a robotics corporation things begin to go drastically wrong, as he and another accountant at the company, Dana (Anna Kendrick), find themselves pursued by men with guns. Luckily, thanks to the protagonist’s military father who wanted him to stand up to bullies, he has been trained in skilled combat and has no qualms with landing a bullet in someone’s head. Oddly, it is not this that is the least believable part of the film. Rather, it is the insipid and cringe-worthy romance struck up between Chris and Dana that lets the movie down. Anna Kendrick does what she can with the role, but it is so underwritten that it only succeeds in adding farce to the fiction.
Despite this, Ben Affleck should be commended for his performance as Chris – he delivers his blunt witticisms and awkward social interactions with a degree of subtlety that in some respect makes up for the questionable link the film makes between Chris’ autism and superhuman ability to kill innumerable people. If O’Connor wanted to normalise autism and show that behavioural conditions should not get in the way of anyone’s life, he has not entirely succeeded, but rather created a geeky superhero. The Accountant is nonetheless entertaining: it delivers on the action thriller front as twist follows twist and provides moments of comic relief, which is welcome amid the faux intensity of the movie.
It is a cruel twist of fate that Ben Affleck finally gets to give a solid performance as a superhero, albeit in a suit and without bat ears. He carries The Accountant, which without him would err further into the laughable than is acceptable of a thriller. The script fails to develop Chris’ character outside of his autism, which is arguably the feature’s great failing and is why it has an oddly superficial feel to it. Nonetheless, the premise of The Accountant is a novel one, and gives more food for thought than your average action movie.
The Accountant is released nationwide on the 4th November 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Accountant here: