Movie Review: ‘The Accountant’
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Cast: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, Cynthia Assai-Robinson, John Lithgow
Plot: A high-functioning autistic accountant makes a hefty pay packet uncooking the books and laundering money for big companies and criminal organisations. When a government agency and a cadre of assassins close in on him, he makes use of the more dangerous skills he has perfected.
Review: There really is one thing that separates this thriller from others currently on the market, that being the main characters neurological disorder. Being in a family with many autistic people this put the film on my radar, as it is very rare to see a high-functioning autistic figure on screen. The usual depiction tends to be Rain Man or the ‘magical autistic child’ trope that keeps turning up in supernatural fare for some reason. Some reviewers have been quick to decree this film as insensitive or offensive, possibly hoping to get onto a socially conscious bandwagon early, or foolishly believe that being autistic is what makes him a perfect marksman, although this is never implied in the film.
As someone who lives with autism and deals with it every day this is one of the most accurate depictions of high functioning autism presented in a genre film. Affleck must’ve done his homework as many of the mannerisms and statements made regarding his condition ring true. The film also depicts the hardline treatment attempted by his father, and how this has had a detrimental affect on his mental health and his inability to manage changes. This is a film that manages to capture the benefits and obstacles of living with autistic spectrum disorder without shying away from issues such as secondary mental health concerns and an inability to socialise. For that reason alone we appreciate this film.
Looking at the movie purely as a cinema-goer, it’s overall a pretty solid thriller. Affleck plays an engaging character and we learn about him from a couple of different perspectives. We follow Affleck as he comes to the realisation that his newest client is not trustworthy and a pair of government agents who try to piece his identity and history together. Whilst the plot thread of the agents provides good backstory there’s little investment in their own tale as they’re working against the protagonist for the right reasons (which is not adequately resolved) and we know more about their mystery than they do. These multiple plot threads are the weakest aspect of the film and leads to a slightly bumbled ending.
There’s a really great cast behind this film, and all of the actors bring their talents to the fore. It may not have been a great idea putting all of Jeffrey Tambor’s scenes in a prison, as it just made us want to shout “NO TOUCHING” at the screen. The action is also enjoyable, having taken it’s cues from the earlier Jason Bourne movies as Affleck makes creative use of whatever he has to hand to deal with his adversaries, making it all the more justifiable for me to call it Jason Bourntism (I make no apologies).
In between the cast, the concept and the action there are a lot of good elements in the mix but the messy narrative fails to make the most of them. Personally we’re thrilled to see an high functioning autistic bad-ass in an action-thriller…it goes some way to normalise the condition. Autistic people can been deadly assassins too! It’s a decent night out.
Rating: SEVEN out of TEN