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The Accountant (Ben Affleck) - DVD Review

The Accountant

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

SOME films are so ridiculous that they entertain in spite of their stupidity. Ben Affleck’s The Accountant is a classic case in point; a supposedly serious, even muscular thriller, boosted by an A-list cast that quite simply doesn’t add up.

Directed by Gavin O’Connor, of Warrior fame, the story finds Affleck playing the accountant of the title, Christian Wolff, a man suffering from autism who cooks the books for various criminal organisations but who is also a crack marksman and martial arts expert.

When he is placed under investigation by a high ranking Treasury agent (JK Simmons), Wolff takes on a more legitimate client in the form of a robotics company run by John Lithgow. But when one of their in-house accountants (Anna Kendrick) spots a multi-million discrepancy in the books, which Wolff then looks into, both of them find their lives in danger.

Working from a screenplay by Bill Dubuque, O’Connor’s film certainly boasts plenty off potential, from seeing Affleck and Simmons potentially go head-to-head in a battle of wits to Affleck grappling with a disability while kicking ass.

Unfortunately, the film fails to realise much of its potential, no matter how entertaining it remains (if only to see how daft and far-fetched things become).

The supposed cat and mouse between Affleck and Simmons never really catches fire, while the balance between the action and drama makes for an uneven tone, particularly as the use of Wolff’s autism struggles for consistency: sometimes it’s played for socially awkward laughs, sometimes it’s employed as a deadpan equivalent of a James Bond quip and sometimes it’s supposed to make you care.

But most of the time, O’Connor seems to be using it as a kind of superhero motif; an X-Men style special gift. And the superhero motif is also blatantly evident in the way Wolff exists as a solitary bachelor, surrounded by expensive gifts as well as killer toys (guns, blades, martial arts training). It’s Affleck doing a different kind of Batman at times, which also makes this film quite a strange career pick.

The likes of Kendrick, Simmons and Jon Bernthal (as a rival assassin) also seem under-nourished in terms of what they’re given to do. Kendrick’s colleague and possible love interest is typically enthralling when on-screen, but never gets the chance to realise her character’s potential; Simmons is wasted in what should have been a far meatier role, and Bernthal also feels short-changed given the significance of his character.

Indeed, the twists that also exist within the story are also too sign-posted, no matter how preposterous they seem. Far from dazzling with their ingenuity, they’re more likely to induce groans or sniggers.

That said, O’Connor directs the action in suitably slick and no-nonsense style, while the overall absurdity of the story is enough to keep you glued for as long as it lasts. The cast even give it their all.

But for a film that professes to be an intelligent adult thriller, The Accountant does eventually leave you feeling short-changed. It’s much less than the sum of its parts.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 9mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: March 13, 2017