Wed | May 27, 2020

'The Accountant' ... Calculated, yet convoluted

Published:Sunday | October 16, 2016 | 12:00 AMDamian Levy
Ben Affleck is ‘The Accountant’.

With a name like The Accountant, it's hard to imagine anything but hyper-aggressive keyboard-clacking, horn-rimmed glasses, and a job that few like. While Ben Affleck's character in this film is an actual accountant, his job description entails more than the occasional audit because, more often than not, he's seen beating, breaking and blasting anyone who threatens him. I'd imagine a potential tagline was: Instead of crunching numbers, he's crunching skulls.

He's dangerous because he's an accountant for dangerous people. Mob bosses and drug cartel leaders across the world go to him to cook their books. That's a unique concept in and of itself, but the film has more to offer. The accountant has a high-functioning brand of autism, and a difficulty socialising, but a narrow focus that allows him to work with numbers quickly. Order and organisation are his gods.

While this tends to be the "autism as a superpower" we see so often in shows like Sherlock, I felt it was earned, mostly because you get a sense of the accountant's development through a handful of flashbacks; flashbacks that make this film feel even more Batman-esque than it's star. The movie made me understand as much as I could about this character since it was difficult for me to relate to his situation. Ben Affleck does more with less, captivating in a role that denies him the luxury of broad expression.

However, as engaging as, the accountant himself is, the film is challenging to say the least. Initially, following the tale of an accountant for criminals, who happens to be on the autism spectrum, is enough; more than enough, some would say. The film disagrees, and throws in storylines and character details that needlessly convolute the narrative. There are moments where a further layer of the film is revealed and you immediately wish it had remained concealed; hidden away forever. Preserving the less is more of the approach the movie had so confidently set up.

The Accountant is a movie I struggle with. I enjoyed it, but I can clearly see its faults. Its failures make its successes less impactful. It hits emotional beats and provides really interesting action, but it gives you soap-opera storytelling you'd see in a bad comic-book movie. All that being said, I suppose I could say this is a movie you should see with lowered expectations.