“The Accountant” is a standard issue action-thriller, with a good enough wrinkle to make it worth seeing.
Ben Affleck plays a nondescript accountant who works in a strip mall but, curiously, also does business around the world with arms brokers, drug cartels, money launderers, and assassins.
The Treasury Department can’t quite figure him out.
“So you’re telling me this guy risks his life doing forensic accounting for some of the scariest people on the planet, collects his fee, goes through all the trouble of laundering it, then gives almost all of it away?”
That’s the mystery of The Accountant — who is he? And what makes him tick? The answer lies mostly in his childhood. We discover he has more in common with Einstein or Mozart.
Affleck’s character — he has so many aliases, I don’t know which one to use — grows up socially isolated and awkward but finds a profession that can tap into his strengths and accommodate his weaknesses. Early on in the film, we also discover he’s an expert marksman and a highly trained fighter. Think Rain Man as James Bond. It turns out Affleck is playing Hollywood’s first autistic hero.
“I have difficulty socializing with other people, even though I want to,” The Accountant explains.
Affleck is not a great actor but he nicely handles the affectlessness of the high-functioning autistic adult. He foregoes the normal social niceties and misses all the social cues. But nothing escapes his notice when it comes to ferreting out numeric abnormalities in financial statements (One scene is very reminiscent of Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind”).
You have to be able to accept as a given that an autistic man could be a top-of-the-line, cold-blooded killer, when necessary. If you can do that, then this movie works as well as any other action-thriller. In other words, it’s no more unrealistic than any others in the genre.
The movie also seems to raise a question about the best way to teach, train, and ultimately raise autistic children. Whether that’s a legitimate question to raise, I’ll leave to the experts.