THE ACCOUNTANT** Doesn’t Add Up


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THIS MOVIE HAS made quite a decent profit so far. Ah, well, there’s no accounting for taste.

In sum, here’s the story: Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is an autistic maths genius CPA who is a one man PWC for sundry gangsters and terrorists groups. He’s also – a very calculating – Batman who can whup ass like nobody’s business. That’s ’cause his dad, a traveling Army man, turned him into a lethal weapon (to defend against childhood bullies; and, like the accountancy, that training stuck).

He’s your typical autistic maths genius hit man. (The autism factor is there, supposedly, to add intrigue, depth and differentiation from all those other Hollywood action heroes. Buyer beware: this is not a character driven movie)

Wolff (What’s in a name?) has been hired to do what he thinks is a straight forensics audit of a firm that seems to have ‘lost’ $60+M. But the books are more than cooked; and when Wolff finds that he must protect whistleblower Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick as the chaste, chemistry-free love interest), he suits up (masses of guns hidden in a trailer) and goes into battle.
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On the positive side of the ledger, he really only kills bad guys; and, deep down, is a pretty decent, if inhibited guy. On the negative side, clearly Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons (as the lawman chasing him down) figured out half way through the filming (the full script must have been withheld from them prior to signing their contracts) that this one wasn’t going to be on the plus side of their movie CV’s. Our loss is, no doubt, their net profit.

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Director Gavin O’Connor hasn’t had a great year: earlier on in the season, he unveiled “Jane Got a Gun” – the Natalie Portman movie that only her family went to. That said, O’Connor’s workman-like directing delivers a decent, if suspense-free, flow of set-piece action encounters that staves off sleep and boredom (Originally the movie, apparently, had the Coen Brothers at the helm. What a difference that would have made!). And Bill Dubuque’s screenplay (his last movie was the equally ‘business-themed’ The Headhunter’s Calling with the nuanced acting of Gerard – “I am Spartan” – Butler) is un-inspiredly adequate.

The blame for this mid-budget creative loss leader has to be placed squarely on the buffed, broad shoulders of Ben Affleck (no doubt too preoccupied with scripting the next Batman movie). For an actor you can usually bank on, in The Accountant, Affleck’s eyes remain dead. What we see in these windows of the soul aren’t the social phobias of an autistic accountant, but an actor who’d rather be anywhere but here. He runs and jumps and feigns emotion more, probably, at the behest of his financial consultant than of the character. He’s the least exciting hit-man to have come along in some time. Call it net deficit acting.

Net net, if you wish to invest your time at the movies, perhaps, on balance, it were better spent somewhere else.

 

THE ACCOUNTANT Dir: Gavin O’Connor (Warrior). With: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K.Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor. Writer: Bill Dubuque. Cinematographer: Seamus McGarvey (Fifty Shades of Grey)

 

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