A killer with autism.
How has it taken Hollywood this long to glom onto such an awesome concept?
Consider: An efficient, ruthless assassin whose singular type of Asperger-ish condition means he won’t empathize with his targets no matter how much they beg. A stoic largely immune to crippling emotions like guilt. A wrecking machine who can pass for civil but at heart cannot create lasting attachments. An obsessive who, once he has started a job, is driven to finish it.
I’d pay to see that movie.
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Unfortunately, that movie isn’t “The Accountant.”
Oh, Ben Affleck’s latest makes noises like it’s heading that direction before deteriorating into silliness and mayhem. But the pieces never add up.
Affleck plays Christian Wolff, a CPA with an office in a south Chicago strip mall and a roster of mom-and-pop clients. But that’s only his cover.
In reality Christian is a mathematical savant and emotional cipher whose clients include drug cartels, mobsters, international arms dealers and other nasty folk. Whenever these crooks suspect that someone has been pilfering cash or cooking the books, they call in Christian to do a little forensic sleuthing.
With a mind like a mainframe computer, he always finds the culprit — who usually ends up in a landfill.
It’s dangerous work but pays well. In a rented storage facility Christian keeps an Airstream trailer packed with cash, weapons and authentic Renoir and Pollock canvases (which he has accepted from grateful clients in lieu of cash).
And as flashbacks reveal, he’s also deadly, having been trained by his military father in martial arts, ordnance, sniping and other skills that might be useful for a kid who is always being bullied.
The plot is set in motion when Christian is called in to audit a robotics firm where a lowly bean counter (Anna Kendrick) has stumbled across a bookkeeping anomaly. What our man finds puts both Christian and his gal pal in the crosshairs of an international criminal conspiracy.
Tasked with eliminating them is a swaggering, loquacious hit man (Jon Bernthal) with an army of mercenaries.
Also on our hero’s tail are a couple of U.S. Treasury agents (J.K. Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who have noticed that he seems to show up in surveillance photos of international baddies.
Also on hand are John Lithgow and an uncredited Jean Smart as bigwigs at the robotics company and, in flashbacks, Jeffrey Tambor as an international money launderer who becomes young Christian’s tutor.
That’s a fair amount of star power, but “The Accountant’s” characters feel perfunctory and predictable. Though the nominal love interest, Kendrick vanishes for almost the entire second half of the picture.
And while Affleck is believable enough as the emotionally limited Christian, the character’s condition means that Affleck’s performance can’t offer much in the way of highs and lows.
Bill Dubuque’s original screenplay (his last outing was the iffy “The Judge”) has a few good moments, but the goofy laughs delivered at dramatic moments are off-putting, as are the incessant flashbacks to Christian’s past and the blatant improbabilities that litter the screenplay.
Director Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior,” “Miracle,” “Pride and Glory”) puts a high gloss on the proceedings and generates a fair amount of tension in the action sequences.
In the end, though, we’re left thinking about how much better it could have been.
Read more of freelancer Robert W. Butler’s reviews at butlerscinemascene.com.
Rated R. Time: 2:08.