2 out of 4 stars
In Argo, Ben Affleck evaded the tyrannical Iranian government to rescue American diplomats. In The Town, he avoided law enforcement as a bank robber. In Pearl Harbor, he was too fast for a unit of Japanese soldiers eager to shoot him after he dropped bombs on the homeland.
But Affleck displays his best moves in The Accountant, where dozens and dozen of bad guys fire automatic rounds at him for much of the two-plus hour film – and not one hits its mark. Affleck’s character – an autistic financial genius named Christian Wolff – can pinpoint a missing penny on a corporation’s spreadsheet as easily he can hit a bull’s eye a mile away with an assault rifle.
But that’s what’s bad with The Accountant; it’s too unbelievable for its own good. Wolff is portrayed as a mere mortal but he acts like he’s still playing the Caped Crusader in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was just as mediocre as his latest work.
Directed by Gavin O’Connor, The Accountant has few bright spots and Wolff comes off believable as a compulsive – yet brilliant – businessman who the Mafia, terrorist groups, money launderers, narco-traffickers and arms dealers pay to make sure their own money managers aren’t skimming off the top. Wolff’s work doesn’t come cheap, but if a nickel isn’t where it should be, he’ll find it within hours, whereas his peers would take days, often longer.
He’s supposed to be the hero. But his autistic idiosyncrasies make it nearly impossible for him to connect with the audience. His awkwardness draws audience laughter, which is in poor taste, considering 1 in 45 are diagnosed with autism, a mental condition that makes it difficult for some to communicate and form relationships with others.
Wolff’s aloofness hinders the movie’s flow, as he’s forced to act like a clandestine, lone wolf-type killer who pushes away everyone who tries to become his friend, including young bookkeeper Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick).
Writer Bill Dubuque does an admirable job explaining Wolff’s back story. Still, it’s unclear how Wolff went from being a boy who struggled mightily to communicate to a well-spoken businessman with a client list littered with criminals.
Jon Bernthal (Walking Dead) plays the stone-cold killer intent on putting a bullet in Wolff before Ray King (Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons) and Marybeth Media (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) of the U.S. Treasury Department bring Wolff to justice.
It’s as if O’Connor took Russell Crowe from A Beautiful Mind and gave him brawn to match his out-of-the-world brains. Wolff, for some reason that isn’t really explained, decides he wants to take a break from working for the bad guys, so he becomes a contractor for a massive, high-tech robotics company that has made a fortune by mainly making artificial limbs for war veterans. He’s hired by the company’s owner, Lamar Black (John Lithgow) to see if all the money is where it should be.
And of course, it’s not. Wolff — with a little help from Kendrick — shows from where millions have disappeared, and minutes later, bullets start flying. It’s amazing how terrible thugs are at shooting weapons accurately. Dozens of bullets wiz past Wolff, yet he doesn’t lose a drop of blood. Meanwhile, he’s taking assassins out with like he’s playing a video game, delivering kill shot after kill shot between victims’ eyes.
The action scenes captivate the audience, as the gun battles are shown from different characters’ points of view and O’Connor’s decision to not have Wolff and Cummings become romantically involved was very astute, since having them sleep together would have been as predictable as a Disney cartoon.
The Accountant’s downfall is that too much of it is in the red and not enough is in the black. It’s a mildly entertaining film, but one that will be forgotten long before tax season.
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 18 years experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He’s also an editor for CBSSports.com. He’s crossing his fingers the only baseball team in Baltimore that will contend for a title this summer won’t be his fantasy squad, the Catonsville Cartel. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.