Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant is, on one hand, an often routine Jason Bourne style thriller with lots of decent fights. It even stars Mr. Bourne’s buddy Ben Affleck. On the other hand, Bill Dubuque’s screenplay contains some plot elements that left me shocked it was green lit. I don’t necessarily mean that in a negative way. You just don’t see action flicks where the central character is an autistic math whiz who mows down bad guys everyday. Said script also comes with a generous heaping of plot holes and meandering subplots.
Affleck is Chris Wolff, suburban number cruncher by day who moonlights for criminal empires catching embezzlers for his real work. He gets paid in cash at times, but also with cool stuff like original Action Comics (appropriate for the newest Caped Crusader) and Picasso paintings. When Chris takes a seemingly legit job auditing a robotics company, he uncovers some questionable practices. Anna Kendrick is one of the business’s employees assisting him.
The myth of Chris and his exploits have caught the attention of a Treasury agent (J.K. Simmons) looking to nab him. He’s about to retire because of course he is, so he blackmails a fellow agent with a shady past (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to join his mission. Jon Bernthal is a hit man whose motivations you’ll spot from a mile away, which by the way is about the distance where Chris can hit any target.
We’re also given flashback sequences detailing the title character’s childhood. It begins in 1989 as Chris’s parents are struggling to deal with his diagnosis. Mom leaves. Dad’s solution is to toughen him up, along with their other son. His military background helps turn the boys into badasses.
Does this all sound just slightly weird? Oh it is. The Accountant is loaded with a lot of plot and much of it ends up making little sense. It’s also written with an earnestness and directed with a soberness more than it warrants. This could have worked (maybe – just maybe) if the creative forces and actors just went all in on its B movie goofy as hell material.
Our lead actor plays this about as stone-faced and humorless as he can muster. No performances really stand out among the supporting players, though John Lithgow is always a welcome sight as he plays a corporate meanie. The talented Kendrick is thoroughly wasted.
I was more bemused by The Accountant than entertained by it. I’ll give it a small amount of credit for attempting to inject something different into an otherwise ordinary genre pic. Still, like The Joker said in a franchise Affleck is now part of: Why So Serious?? You may ask that at times along with “Are You Serious?”
** (out of four)