A loner finds a water nymph in a swimming pool? How did that pitch meeting go? “Okay imagine this, it’s like Splash! but on barbiturates!”
Ben Affleck stars as a beefcake, autistic accountant who specializes in closing the books and shooting people dead in the face… because… Hollywood, that’s why.
Should I see it?
Yes, if you have patience and low expectations.
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jon Bernthal and John Lithgow
Rated R for violence and language
Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is an autistic accountant who serves the international criminal class. While working a freelance forensic accounting gig, he uncovers massive financial hijinks. This, of course, leads to accusations, chases and people shooting other people in the face. No worry, Christian isn’t just an autistic accountant, he is also an expertly trained assassin/sniper.
You read that last sentence correctly.
If that seems stupid to you, this is because it is indeed stupid, deeply stupid. Director Gavin O’Connor manages to slide this silliness past the audience by framing the autism much in the same way Ron Howard sold paranoid schizophrenia in A Beautiful Mind. The disability is presented very intently as an ultimate good for the hero that propels him to great things. Unlike A Beautiful Mind, the negative impacts of the disability never come to haunt Christian. Yes, he is isolated and needs order, but there is no consequence when these tenets of his life are violated numerous times.
Given this is a movie, selling the idea of an autistic becoming a world-class accountant isn’t a tall order. Trained killer? That takes some doing. Christian and his brother are raised in ancient Spartan conditions by their psychotic father. Christian’s father refuses to allow Christian to give into his disability, believing that it will make him weak. Instead, he forces his son to be confronted with the constant stimuli that normally would increase his autism. This all reeks of an origin story for a superhero rather than a humble accountant. By the time the final acts rolls around, it is clear that indeed you may as well be watching a superhero film.
Ultimately, there is little difference between this film and Affleck’s first superhero film Daredevil, about a blind lawyer/superhero/trained assassin. Both heroes overcome and control their disabilities while sporting inhuman fighting abilities and battling daddy issues. The largest difference is that The Accountant wants you to take it seriously. Unfortunately, by the time Christian single-handedly takes out nearly a dozen, presumably former special forces, bodyguards, seriousness has flown the coop.