The Accountant

The Accountant

When Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were shopping around their Good Will Hunting screenplay in the '90s, a fair portion of it had Damon's math genius on the run from the NSA. The thriller elements were ultimately cut from the script, which allowed the story to focus on human drama. Years later, although Affleck didn't write The Accountant – one Bill Dubuque did that – it's as though he's finally getting to indulge in Good Will Hunting's initial aspirations.

Here the actor plays Christian Wolff, the brilliant titular character who, when he's not helping ordinary folks file their tax returns in his office in a suburban Chicago strip mall, launders millions of dollars for dangerous cartels and organizations around the world. Oh, and he's also an expert marksman. Oh, and he's also skilled in the martial arts. Oh, and he's also autistic.

Dubuque's script might have been worthwhile if it was more about how high-functioning autistics make do in the world today. And Affleck isn't bad in the part, which caters to his stiffness. But Wolff, with his wide range of ass-kicking skills, his hidden wealth, and a mysterious, British-robot-sounding "secretary" feeding him information over the phone, is half Batman, half James Bond. Instead of being compelling, The Accountant is simply preposterous.

Is it fun, though? Not really. The strong cast is mostly wasted (Anna Kendrick, as a would-be love interest, is eventually shrugged off; J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson are Treasury agents whose hunt for Wolff belies their real purpose as expository characters). The violence is gratuitous, to say the least, yet director Gavin O'Connor's staging of the various gunfights and fistfights is flat. And if you can't guess the story's "big twist" at least an hour before it's finally revealed (hint: whatever became of Wolff's non-autistic brother, who pops up in the film's many flashbacks?), then you haven't been paying attention.

A lot of critics are calling The Accountant horrible. I disagree; it's too competently made to be horrible. But it is convoluted, it's predictable, and it's wholly inessential.