With everyone still reeling over his version of Bruce Wayne, Ben Affleck knows how to capture an audience. Regardless of the quality of the film, Affleck still manages to shine despite an uneven script. This is one of those cases in Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant. Going in, this film was already the center of controversy with Affleck playing as an autistic person. But that should be the least of everyone’s worries concerning this film. The uneven plots and characters turn what could have been an original idea into a generic action flick.
Affleck plays Christian Wolff, a man with high functioning autism who seems to be a normal accountant in a small town. However, he is a favorite among the cartels and terrorist groups, helping keep their books in check. When his associations gain the attention of Treasury Department agent ray King (J.K. Simmons), he assigns his associate, Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to track him down.
With the government hot on his heels, Christian decides to help a famous robotics company uncook their books after a huge discrepancy was found. As the mystery begins to unravel, Christian must use his assassination skills to fight for his survival.
While it’s easy to play a socially awkward individual, trying to portray autism is extremely difficult. There are many different areas on the spectrum and it can easily become victim to stereotypes. While Affleck is a versatile actor, his portrayal fell more into the latter category. Christian is good with numbers and doesn’t understand sarcasm, but he mainly comes off as emotionally distant. He has a couple of awkward comedic lines that are worth of a chuckle, but overall, he just looks lost. Even if he didn’t achieve the personality, Affleck was still the best part of the movie. His fighting skills mixed with his damaged past prove that he is ready to take on Bruce Wayne.
Christian’s biggest cheerleader is Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), an accountant at the robotics company. She’s everything that Christian wants to be: bubbly and sociable. Kendrick lightens up the mood in every scene she’s in, and you can’t help but giggle whenever Christian tries to joke around her. Kendrick felt like the shoehorned romantic interest with the damsel in distress routine nailed down. Their sexual tension is through the roof, but, thankfully, O’Connor doesn’t focus on that. Instead, he just leaves her in a hotel room to be forgotten about by the third act.
Bill Dubuque’s script had been stuck in the black hole of unproduced screenplays until Ben Affleck discovered it. It’s not clear whether the studio had major interference in rewrites, but the script felt like a first draft through and through. It never knew what it wanted to be and juggled between a family drama and a generic action flick. Instead of having the audience figure out the story, we literally have Simmons give a 20 minute exposition of what happened in Christian’s past. It felt like O’Connor was trying to make up for the lack of story and spoonfed us information instead of creating memorable scenes.
Even Jon Bernthal looked ridiculous playing a sassier version of Frank Castle (with a haircut that made him look like Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Rec). He could have been one of the most interesting characters if O’Connor spent more time on his background rather than just make him a bland super soldier. I’m not sure why the studios thought they needed other big names besides Affleck, but they really wasted their potential. Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow both made glorified cameos, but not enough to leave that big of an impression. The script simply didn’t give any of these stars anything to work and they were merely used to fill up the runtime.
What could have been a fascinating character study quickly turns into a second-rate Batman origin story. O’Connor tried to have John Wick meet Good Will Hunting, but both of those genres just crashed into one another. We love John Wick because we know he’s simply a badass because he says so. If a character has a specific disability, I expect to see them be hindered by it, not turn into an invincible Mary Sue.