Does THE ACCOUNTANT know what kind of film it wants to be when it grows up? It’s mostly an action movie, but it has these other plot-points roaming about trying to grab our attention, too. For one, there’s this anti-hero, Christian Wolff, with autism spectrum disorder who has harnessed a sly combination of super-power-like math and accounting skills along with badass killing skills. Then, there’s this small romantic comedy theme that’s a little bit awkward and a little bit charming, stringing us along amid a bullet flaring cat and mouse drama that leads to two different plot twists towards the end.
The extraordinary thing about it all is that while the characters and storylines are so incredibly far-fetched and unbelievable, and overlapping one another in a not-so-elegant way, they actually work. They don’t seem disjointed at all while you’re immersed in the experience—the writing, acting, directing, cinematography and editing all do an outstanding job of making this film come to life. It isn’t until you find yourself reflecting on the film and talking about it after the fact that you realize how disjointed it should have seemed. Try explaining it to someone else or writing a review on it, and it doesn’t seem possible that it was actually a cohesive work, deserving of praise even while being the clear Hollywood blockbuster action film that it was. But, deserving of praise it is.
Ben Affleck’s portrayal of his autistic math savant, pocket-protector-wearing killing machine protagonist was spot on, I’d imagine, if such a character were to exist in reality. The young actors in the film are also worthy of recognition: Seth Lee and Blake Presley for their roles of young Chris and Chris’s brother—a young man with autism spectrum disorder and his protective brother. It was an odd choice to create a heroic character from someone on the spectrum by deciding to demonstrate the effectiveness of aversion and over-stimulation therapies and martial arts to “normalize” this fictitious character. Also, the scenes that show Affleck turning on strobe lights, playing loud metal music and rolling his calves (presumably all desensitization techniques) could have been explained better in the film, either through the scenes themselves or flashbacks. It left many audience members wondering what they were seeing and speculating inaccurately.
Writing this screenplay to make all of these elements come together in a believable way was no easy task, and so THE ACCOUNTANT writer Bill Dubuque deserves great credit for his work along with director Gavin O’Connor for fully conceiving this odd compilation of characters to create a solid action film. Overall, the film is a fun and interesting cohesive experience, and I’m still not sure how they made that happen.