The Accountant, a mathematical savant with a deadly edge

Directed by Gavin O’Connor The Accountant is a drama/thriller starring Ben Affleck as high functioning autistic and mathematical genius, Christian Wolff.  Wolff works as a forensic accountant in the inconspicuously named ‘ZZZ Accounting’ as a front for his real trade: unscrambling the books for the world’s top criminals who suspect they are being fleeced by their criminal brethren.  Wolff’s association with these nefarious criminals brings him to the attention of the Treasury Department who seek to discover Wolff’s identity.  It is then that Wolff decides to take on a legitimate job for a robotics company that the plot starts to unfold and the bodies start piling up.  Meanwhile, the director of financial crimes for the Treasury Department (J.K Simmons) is closing in on the accountant.

carry the 1 and...become a killing machine
carry the 1 and…become a killing machine

There is more to Wolff than appears on the surface, however.  Through a series of well-executed flashbacks we learn that Wolff’s upbringing was less than rosy, being raised by a tough-love military father – played by Robert C Treveiler – who ensured his son was well versed in the art of self-defence and martial arts.  This means that he is excellent both with numbers and sharpshooting, but he finds it difficult to interact with people.  Fortunately for us, however, this leads to some very dry humour that draws chuckles from the audience on more than one occasion, providing some lighter moments in an otherwise tense, action-filled plot.

Indeed, set amongst a field of cliched characters and plot-lines, the humour is probably the saving grace of the film, especially in the scenes Affleck shares with Anna Kendrick, who  stars as the same awkward damsel in distress we’ve seen her play too many times. Her character feels underused.

The cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is simple but beautiful, and the action scenes are well choreographed and enjoyable, even though Affleck’s abilities seem a bit unbelievable at times.  Unfortunately, the last few scenes felt like a clumsy afterthought, breaking the steady pace down to a disappointed fizzle.

The film seems to be trying to pass a comment on children with autism – though I’m not sure that ‘hey your kids can be super good at killing people’ is the right message to make.  All in all, The Accountant is not particularly memorable, or intellectual, but it doesn’t need to be.  If you enjoy watching damaged men skillfully and violently kill others, and can ignore a few questionable plot elements, then you’ll have a good time with it.

The Accountant opens Thursday November 3.

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