It’s not very easy to precisely pinpoint whether The Accountant is overall a good film or shabby one, because you’ll leave the theater wondering whether it was all a good looking dumb thriller or a really high brow B-movie. The film skirts both sides of the pendulum, sometimes at a dizzyingly high rate, and if anything it certainly is an engrossing one time watch, whether or not you find its plot preposterous.
Directed by Gavin O’Connor who made the excellent boxing drama Warrior earlier, The Accountant introduces us to Ben Affleck who plays Christian, a man suffering from what is known as 'high functioning autism'.
Since he’s a superhuman with numbers he works as an accountant for powerful players who may or may not be in the right side of the law. More interestingly he has another lifestyle which makes him deal with punching people like an MMA fighter and firing bullets like an accomplished marksman at them for equally clandestine reasons. The treasury director King (JK Simmons) gets wind of Christian’s strange activities and sends over his new recruit Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to dig out info and catch him red handed.
The thing with The Accountant is how it shifts its gears from weirdly pulpy to deadly serious in a matter of minutes, until it suddenly becomes a martial arts movie with guns and also a fractured family drama, and also a commentary on the setbacks of autism. All these elements find themselves in a bizarre battle against each other as the film goes from one ludicrous plot point to another, constantly asking you to suspend your disbelief even further.
Even though the first half is a slow burn the cheap thrill-a-minute approach in the later half becomes a little exhausting, and when the hundredth flashback, twist and turn arrives you wonder if the script (by Bill Dubuque) was written on the fly. Nonetheless the fairly predictable final twist is enjoyably trashy enough to buy into the whole thing and forget any need for logical machinery to make the film less cartoonish in narrative.Without the odd layer of seriousness, and with a tone like, say, Shoot Em Up, this movie could have in fact been a much more agreeable product because then you would be laughing with the film rather than at its ludicrous narrative choices.
The rest of the cast including Jon Bernthal as a hit man is just about fine, but Affleck makes this an entertaining watch with his little OCD ticks and glass eyed commitment to the role. After watching his fascinating and super intelligent avatar in this film it’s kind of hilarious to go back to the scene in Good Will Hunting where Affleck’s character in his thick Boston accent describes Damon’s character as ‘My boy here is wicked smart’.
Quite simply, if you buy into whatever preposterous development occurs in the film, you’ll find yourself enjoying The Accountant. But if you’re looking for some logic and genuine intelligence you’ll have to keep looking elsewhere. This entire film is basically a series of awkward moments caught on camera, and perhaps that itself qualifies as a valid enough reason to catch it in theaters.