This improbable thriller starts out strong but gets bogged down in unnecessary plot twists.
He's an accountant. But he's also a hitman. But he's also a high-functioning autistic. But he's also a martial arts expert. And a marksman. Oh, and he's an art lover. He has a Renoir, but he prefers the Pollack. Man, it would've been a fun room to be in when they pitched The Accountant. And yet, the pitch worked, with the film they ended up making turning out like the lovechild of A Beautiful Mind and Jason Bourne. If that sounds somewhat genre bending, it is. There's even a bunch of quirky comedy in there to really mix things up.
Ultimately, the premise of The Accountant, by director Gavin O'Connor (Warrior), is as out there as it sounds: Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a genius mathematician whose autism saw his mother abandon the family during his childhood, and his military father apply psy-ops (psychological operations) training to inure both Christian and his brother to the world of hardship that awaited them as adults. 20 years later and all grown up, Christian now operates as an accountant to the international worst of the worst: mafia, drug cartels and gun runners, oh my! The Treasury wants to know who he is, while a cutting-edge robotics company wants his services to track down missing millions from its accounts.
Wild as they sound, the opening stages of this movie actually hold up pretty well. Affleck plays Wolff very much like his recent portrayal of Bruce Wayne: hulking, detached and extremely socially awkward. There are the clichéd maths montages featuring blinking-eyed number crunching and frenzied writing on walls, but on the whole his depiction of a misunderstood neurological conditions is impressively understated.
But the film takes a sudden turn for the worse about an hour in. Its determination to throw in plot twist after plot twist results in some excruciating exposition-heavy scenes. The violence, meanwhile, is extreme and comic-booky (think John Wick with a tick), and the characters' lives all end up being far more intertwined than necessary. The supporting cast is strong, featuring the likes of Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor and Jon Bernthal. Sadly, none are given the kind of material needed to properly showcase their talents.
The result is a film adrift, floating from one genre to the next without ever properly settling. It has some touching (and much needed) language about 'different, not worse' when it comes to non-neurotypicals, but the constant limb-cracking and blood-smattering that surround it means the message is fast muddled and forgotten. One suspects the film itself may suffer a similar and disappointing fate.