The Accountant (2016) Review: Miscalculated
With a name like ‘The Accountant’, it’s hard to imagine anything but hyper aggressive keyboard clacking, horn rimmed glasses, and a job that few like. While Ben Affleck’s character in this film is an actual accountant, his job description entails more than the occasional audit, because more often than not he’s seen beating, breaking and blasting anyone who threatens him. I’d imagine a potential tagline was: Instead of crunching numbers, he’s crunching skulls.
He’s dangerous because, he’s an accountant for dangerous people. Mob bosses and drug cartel leaders across the world go to him to cook their books. That’s a unique concept in and of itself, but the film has more to offer. The accountant has a high functioning brand of autism, with a difficulty socializing, but a narrow focus that allows him to work with numbers quickly. Order and organization are his Gods.
While this tends to be the “autism as a superpower” we see so often in shows like ‘Sherlock’, I felt it was earned. Mostly because you get a sense of the accountant’s development through a handful of flashbacks. Flashbacks that make this film feel even more Batman-esque than it’s star. The movie made me understand as much as I could about this character, since it was difficult for me to relate to his situation. Ben Affleck does more with less, captivating in a role that denies him the luxury of broad expression.
However as engaging as the accountant himself is, the film is challenging to say the least. Initially, following the tale of an accountant for criminals, who happens to be on the autism spectrum is enough. More than enough some would say. The film disagrees, and throws in storylines and character details that needlessly convolute the narrative. There are moments where a further layer of the film is revealed, and you immediately wish it had remained concealed. Hidden away forever. Preserving the less is more approach the movie had so confidently set up.
The film’s brightest spark is in its cast. Each member brings their A-game, but sadly, you can’t help but feel it’s for naught. What good is a well crafted performance, if the role it’s for feels contrived. These characters are overshadowed by their backstories, which makes it difficult to care for them, since they don’t even feel real.
‘The Accountant’ is a movie I struggle with. I enjoyed it, but I can clearly see its faults. Its failures make its successes less impactful. It hits emotional beats, and provides really interesting action, but it gives you soap opera storytelling you’d see in a bad comic book movie. All that being said, I suppose I could say this is a movie you should see at a discount, with lowered expectations.
Rating: Low Half Price