Blu-ray Review: The Accountant
By John Corrado
★★★½ (out of 4)
Christian Wolfe (Ben Affleck) is an accountant who has Asperger’s syndrome, and was raised by a militant father (Robert C. Treveiler) who taught him survival skills so that he could stand up against bullies.
These survival skills come in handy considering that most of his clients are crime bosses and drug lords who hire him to help cook their books. But when he is brought in by a robotics company to help investigate a large discrepancy in their numbers, Christian’s life is threatened and the body count starts to add up around him.
Driven to protect Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), a socially awkward accounting clerk whom he develops feelings for, Christian must rely on all his expertise to get them out alive. Meanwhile, Christian is also coming under investigation by Ray King (J.K. Simmons) and Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) at the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, and also facing up against a mysterious contract killer (Jon Bernthal) hired to take out those who know too much.
This premise certainly doesn’t lack in terms of originality, and The Accountant is a purely entertaining ride that has appeal far beyond just another bland action flick. Director Gavin O’Connor has delivered a sleekly made mix of character study, financial drama and gritty thriller, with Bill Dubuque’s screenplay operating as both multilayered puzzle piece mystery and complex character study. And this starts with the autistic hero. Although the film has drawn the ire of some for making its protagonist a somewhat stereotypical math genius and casting a presumably neurotypical actor in the role, I personally found The Accountant to be a respectful portrayal of its character’s diagnosis.
The film also presents autism as merely a different way of thinking instead of a negative thing that needs to be cured, and celebrates it as such, even becoming weirdly inspiring as it goes along. Yes, Christian methodically kills when he needs to, but the film doesn’t suggest that this violence stems from his autism, nor that all autistic people are violent. Christian is instead presented as a character who operates within a high moral code and has a deeply rooted sense of right and wrong, powered by his empathetic drive to protect the people he cares about.
Christian is also willing to be creative with the numbers to help out clients in need or redistribute funds to charity, and is essentially like a modern day Robin Hood with an arsenal of assault rifles and martial arts training. Having spent time with young adults on the spectrum to help him develop the role, Ben Affleck plays him in a surprisingly understated way, with his carefully measured mannerisms and quiet speaking pattern adding up to a sensitive and believable portrayal. Seth Lee also does an excellent job of portraying the character as a child in some emotionally demanding flashbacks.
Grounded by Ben Affleck’s quietly mannered performance, and backed up by a uniformly solid supporting cast that includes charming work from Anna Kendrick and another excellent turn by J.K. Simmons, The Accountant is an exciting and oddly moving action thriller that celebrates differences. It’s also just really entertaining. I actually kinda loved this film and still find myself thinking about it, and really hope that others who are on the fence about it will give it a chance.
The Blu-ray also includes also includes three nicely done featurettes. First up is Inside the Man, which is a discussion of the multifaceted main character and what drives him, Behavioural Science provides an interesting look at the lengths that everyone involved went to in making sure that the film provided both a realistic and positive portrayal of autism, and finally The Accountant in Action focuses on the stunts and choreography behind the action scenes, which Ben Affleck heavily trained for.
The Accountant is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 128 minutes and rated 14A.