Like Keanu Reeves, Ben Affleck has recently become a meme for his sadness. While promoting the critically-panned Batman Vs. Superman, Affleck became ‘Sadfleck’ during an interview and, since then, has been something of a laughing stock – not helped by how busy 2016 was for him. Alongside the hated Batman was an appearance in the equally loathed Suicide Squad, his directorial disaster Live By Night and, the subject of this review, Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant. Described by some as “John Wick meets Good Will Hunting”, let’s take a closer look and find out if this one fits in with the rest of Affleck’s 2016 shite.
Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff, a small-town public accountant with high-functioning autism who, unbeknownst to the world, makes his living uncooking the books of dangerous criminal organizations around the world. Known as ‘The Accountant’ by the law, he is being hunted by Raymond King (JK Simmons) and shit goes down. Yes, guns are fired, don’t worry…It’s a fairly engrossing little thriller plotline – there are twists and turns a-plenty, and a rock solid cast to boot. Expect to see John Lithgow, Jon Bernthal, Anna Kendrick and Jeffrey Tambor do their thing before the credits roll. But despite this, The Accountant doesn’t really do anything interesting.
Firstly, the surprise. Ben Affleck puts in a fine performance and carries the film well. Ben Affleck is trying, ladies and gentlemen. And he succeeds. As the autistic savant at the centre of the story, Affleck puts in a nuanced performance that could earn him bottom-end awards. Nowhere near Oscar quality, sure, but a pat on the back at least. Described by some as a superhero movie for arguably putting an autistic hero in an action film, The Accountant could be the basis of inspiration for those battling the affliction. And inspiring those who struggle can never be a bad thing.
But outside of the autism theme, there’s not a lot here to set The Accountant apart from dozens of other modern thrillers. It has elements of Jason Bourne, John Wick, James Bond; all the titular thriller heroes you can think of. The lack of a strong sense of originality is the film’s downfall. Tonally, the film is a little too inconsistent – to go from understated study of autism to explosive gunfights may be a little too heavy-handed here, creating a somewhat confused feel to the film’s genre. What are we watching? A drama? A thriller? An action? These three genres can go hand-in-hand if handled well – here, they’re playing three-way tug of war and nobody wins.
Maybe I expect too much from these films – for me to say things like “it won’t stay with you after the credits roll” or “it does nothing original” is not necessarily a criticism. Popcorn-munchin’ blockbusters aren’t looking for longevity. They’re looking to entertain for a couple of hours and take their audience on a ride. The Accountant does that. It won’t go down in cinema history, sure. But if every single film did, we wouldn’t have the classics.
The Accountant isn’t reinventing the wheel. It’s not even cleaning it, or putting a new hubcap on. It’s just throwing the same wheel at the audience. Hey, if it ain’t broke - don’t fix it. Audiences lap this shit up and always will. There is more to like here than your straight-to-DVD Steven Seagal action but, really, this one doesn’t do anything whatsoever to stand out. Still, if you’ve got two hours to kill and no desire to watch something you’ll take with you through life – The Accountant should give you a decent return. But on the whole, The Accountant doesn’t quite add up.
The Accountant at CeX
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