Movie: The Accountant
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Cast: Ben Affleck, J K Simmons, Anna Kendrick
The Accountant is one of those films that you'll absolutely love parts of and totally hate the rest. In fact, the more I think about, it feels like there were two distinct movies joined at the hip with a hint of dark comedy. Melancholy, is the word that sums it up best.
The story starts off promisingly enough. Strong characters are introduced in bursts and spurts and really set up this sense of anticipation in you that great things are to to come when their paths cross.
Ben Affleck is an autistic kid. A maths genius who is afraid of touch, light or loud sounds, his military dad puts him and his brother through a weird brand of tough love - the kind that involves having martial arts masters plastering them all over the backyard in Jakarta and having them beat bullies to a pulp in the back alleys of France. He eventually grows up to be an ace accountant who crunches numbers for the world's biggest criminals and shoots pumpkins with an anti-aircraft rounds out of a sniper gun. Understandably, he's socially awkward. Autism does that to you.
J K Simmons plays a wizened old Treasury Department Director who wants to find 'The Accountant' before he retires and asks his badass analyst Cynthia Addai Robinson to get the job done.
Joe Bernthal is this slick mercenary-style assassin who kills people practically all the time without ever worrying the cops, feds or spooks. Anna Kendrick works as an accounting exec who detects a shortfall in the robotics firm she's working at. That's the good part.
Here's where it all goes wrong. Using all of these characters in a screenplay that careens between flashes from the past and violent action scenes in the present, Gavin O'Connor seems to have gotten quite a few sums wrong while making this film. Not only does it get dreary and boring when each character has this protracted back story, there are times when the dialogue gets so mundane and tedious that you're hoping that Ben Affleck's violent, killer mode gets switched on again. At least, there are some bad jokes to laugh at in there.
Ben Affleck turns in a stoic performance as a troubled autistic savant, brilliant when he's trying to grapple with normal human emotions like love, care, kinship, fear and intrinsically silly when he transforms into the 2016 equivalent of Van Damme's Universal Soldier. Maybe, just maybe, if we'd gotten to see more of the former and less of the latter, The Accountant would have been a clear home run.
It's never a bad idea to tie all your storylines, but you know that someone's short of ideas when adversaries end up being brothers and the girl gets the one thing the reclusive hero treasured in the world. And when a woman in a home for the mentally ill, who cannot coordinate her movements long enough to walk straight, and stopped talking 30 years ago, uses a computer to turn into a super-spy's secretary, sexy voice and all. Now that's the pits. Not even Pam Anderson's VIP hit those depths.
Verdict: If you like black comedy, hang in there, play with your phone during the action scenes, and laugh when appropriate. If you liked Commando, strap in and tide through the long dialogue-ridden scenes. Death by pummelling is coming