The Accountant

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This one has been out for a few weeks now. Starring Ben Affleck, it also counts with Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons, all actors I very much like. The trailer looked particularly promising too, so I went for it. As usual, beware of spoilers.

Christian Wolff (Affleck) wasn’t a normal child. He was obsessive, he had difficulty relating socially to others and the only person he felt comfortable with was his brother. A specialist offers to help him. His daughter is also different and he has a place where Christian could stay to get the help he needed in an environment that suited him. Christian’s army father had different ideas, however. As he grows up, he exploits his superior ability with maths and becomes an accountant, working for some of the most dangerous men in the planet, and only trusts one person, the woman on the other end of the phone, a personal assistant of sorts. He is hired one day by a big company to check their books. One of their in-house accountants, Dana (Kendrick), has noticed something wrong. He eventually finds out what is happening, confirming Dana’s suspicions. The next day, he finds his work being cleaned up. This is then followed by somebody trying to kill him. As they are unsuccessful, he finds out they will try to kill Dana too. The woman on the phone tries to tell him it’s not his problem but he has felt some connection to her and decides otherwise. As it turns out, Mr. Wolff has many more special skills than just maths and they will come in handy as he tries to eliminate his enemies.

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This movie wasn’t what I expected. I also have to say, the above trailer is not the one I had seen in the first place. This one seems to be more accurate to the movie. In the one I had first seen, it gave me the impression that Wolff (Affleck) did much more than just the numbers for all this criminal types he was working for. I thought this would be a chase by the authorities, J.K. Simmons playing the role of that authority. Well, I was wrong. This is a save-the-girl theme. That’s what happens when you don’t do your homework right.

I’m not sure still how I feel about the movie. I gave it a mediocre rating because, to be honest, it took me forty minutes to get into it. Forty minutes of almost just background and characterisation. I think the forty minutes was right up to the time Dana (Kendrick) joins the movie.

Dana plays a small role in the movie. She is the girl to be saved, so she is essentially the trigger for all the action and violence that follows. She is also the only other person Wolff has felt any connection to. From the beginning, Dana doesn’t seem to mind or notice he’s different. As we know a bit more of the character, she comes across as somebody who also felt ostracised in her childhood. This connection, as feeble as it may be, seems to be the reason Wolff decides to get involved and save her as well.

There are, however, some nice touches to the movie. For one thing, we’re spared the romantic angle. Yes, there might be a moment there between Dana and Christian, but being unable to recognise the signs, he doesn’t get it and moves on. Understand me well, I love a good romance, I’m not dead inside but sometimes it feels like it’s there for no reason and, in this case, it wouldn’t have fit the character and special circumstances of Christian Wolff. And also, sometimes, you just want some good old fashioned shoot ’em up.

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Still, this is not quite so much of an old fashioned one. There are some plot twists that you only see coming a second before they happen. Or maybe it’s just me who didn’t see them coming earlier, possibly because I found it hard immerse into the world of the movie.

It’s not a bad film, yet… it’s not a great one either, which saddens me. I really like Ben Affleck, I love J.K. Simmons and I really like Anna Kendrick too, so I hoped I would love this movie, and I didn’t. I suppose it’s another one of those good Friday night’s with Netflix kinda movies. It has great TV show potential for me, so her goes to you Netflix, you can make that happen.

I wouldn’t want to end this post before mentioning the message of the movie. Willingly or not, this movie talks about autism and how we treat children with this sort of difficulty. The big twist at the end, which I won’t reveal, finds its echo on one of the final lines, referring to an autistic child:

‘Maybe he doesn’t know how to tell us or maybe we haven’t learnt yet how to listen’ (The Accountant, 2016).

This is very true, there is, to this day, a lot we don’t know about autism, what triggers it, what it does, how it works, etc. We don’t understand completely how to help children with this issues and it is anybody’s guess whether one day we will. Still, as commendable as the message is, I feel like it’s not necessarily best suited for this movie. Yes, of course, the main character has some sort of autism, and yes he leads a successful life. To an extent. He is also a highly trained killer and leaves a substantial number of dead bodies in his path. Still, when asked if Christian would be able to lead a normal life, the specialist at the beginning of the movie replied ‘define normal’ (The Accountant,2016). I suppose it is for us to redefine our expectations for our children, autistic or not, as opposed to our children growing into our expectations. That, at least, is a message I can support.

Resources

  • The Accountant (2016). Directed by Gavin O’Connor. Warner Bros. Burbank, California.

 

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