Ben Affleck is the estranged, titular character—”their accountant, an accountant, the accountant.” Christian Wolff is his persona and he’s not a common accountant. He’s a math genius working for largest world’s criminal organizations; he’s a martial arts expert and a gunslinger; and he’s a man with Asperger’s syndrome.
The Accountant is an offbeat action-thriller built upon the superiority of the titular character. Apparently, Mr. Wolff himself might be Batman if the hero decides to take off his cape and is an autistic. He’s got the wealth, remote assistance, physical endurance, self-repentance and Affleck’s deadpan face; what differentiates him from Batman is: the plot, which sometimes goes laudable and, mostly, goes laughable—in a positive way, supposedly.
There is a flashback when the film is very early showing unstable, young Wolff gets a professional help in regards to his autism. He’s different, but as we eventually know, there’s more talents than descends on him. Soon, we’re introduced to the second plot threads involving a Treasury chief (J.K. Simmons) blackmailing an analyst (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) into investigating a mysterious someone who always presents in all influential meetings of international crime leaders. Meanwhile, Wolff is hired by a large neuro-robotic company to audit their 15-year financial record—a job which introduces him to Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), his antithesis. In the other side of the world, a hitman (Jon Bernthal) is doing his rough job. Those threads are knitted into a series of perplexed spiderwebs centering on Wolff; but they do not mean anything until Wolff and Dana Cummings find an ugly truth.
Gavin O’Connors (Warriors) could have presented The Accountant like John Wick (in the end, both films have similarities—the sometimes ridiculous plot and the brutal action sequences), but he restrains it from being an outburst of nihilistic action bonanza. Instead, O’Connor pays more attention to the details of Wolff’s autistic behavior reflected in his obsessive-compulsive disorder, his tendency to find symmetry and trinity, also his self-punishment. Somehow, the director aims to show the audiences that autism might be a blessing in disguise; he’s making it a sympathetic subject and he clearly states that what people with autism needs is assistance and direction.
There’s beauty emanates from the sensitive subject matter; O’Connor reflects it through Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography which often devices symmetrical shots and orders. Picks of peculiar music by Mark Isham also juxtapose perfectly with the character’s behavior. All the technical departments (from art direction, production design, set decoration to the costume) deliberately represent the accountant’s autistic behavior.
Making it more sympathetic is Ben Affleck’s captivating portrayal of the titular hero. There’s possibly more than two sides of Christian Wolff: the savant, the fragile and the killing machine; captured by Affleck’s range of performance. As a savant, his Wolff is more stoic and obsessive; there’s not much facial expressions to highlight and there’s where Affleck’s acting matters. There’s an empty face but not an empty soul. Differently, the fragile Wolff is more expressive in an exuberant way. While the killing machine version is more like a blend of the two in a more elegant way, but less of a stoic. Those sides of Wolff emanates through Affleck’s committed performance, which you’ll either love to hate or hate to love.
Bill Dubuque’s screenplay might be the culprit. How the script attempts to knot those series of messy threads sometimes take a ridiculous way; even, some plot threads do not really integrate into the main story. But, the plot could embrace all the elements that result in sympathy, as it often shows how Wolff could be the accountant we eventually see despite his condition. There’s an element of trauma, family reunion (O’Connor’s favorite), a glimpse of romance, and corruption, which doesn’t really get summed up perfectly; but mutually lead to a sympathetic affection towards our character.
While the convoluted plot contradicts O’Connor’s vision of details, resulting in unbalanced pace, The Accountant could still deliver a decent slow-burn action-thriller which pays off at the end with dynamic fighting sequences—combination between gun-fu and pencak silat—and a visceral headshot-fest. The ridiculous plot might be forgiven with Ben Affleck’s powerhouse performance and some unanswered plot threads, which might lead to possible sequel.
Final verdict: Knotting a series of messy threads with aggressive headshot-fest and details to the titular character’s behavior, The Accountant is an offbeat thriller, which benefits from Ben Affleck’s performance and the (sometimes) ridiculous plot.
The Accountant (2016)
This review is supported by Book My Show Indonesia.