Ben Affleck plays an autistic accountant assassin in this tremendous misfire that borders on camp


“The Accountant” is a little bit “Rain Man,” a little bit “Good Will Hunting” and a little bit “John Wick.”

And it’s all bad.

This is the kind of head scratcher that should have never made it out of the development phase. You can imagine a pitch meeting where someone slept in too late, forgot to come up with an idea and started mashing thoughts together while his eyes darted nervously around the room. “Uhh, there’s this … accountant? And he’s, um, autistic? And he’s also an assassin? Man, I’m sorry, I was up late last night … wait, you’re in? We’ve got a deal?”

Let’s go out on a limb and say that there is something to this wacky idea. If that’s the case, Ben Affleck is the absolute wrong person to play the character. Still carrying his Batman bulk, Affleck lumbers around the screen like a stiff Frankenstein figure, tight-lipped and stone-faced, sometimes blinking his eyes and holding them extra tight to let you know he’s “acting” like someone on the autism spectrum.

Affleck never seems aware of the abilities or limitations of his character, who happens to be one of the most bananas film heroes to come along in a while. Take, for example, his secret lair: an airstream trailer that’s full of military-grade weapons and millions in rare works of art that he houses in a common storage unit. Yes, his Batcave comes with a $30-a-month rental fee.

Oh, and he is also a world-class marksman whose father brought him to Indonesia as a child to teach him martial arts. Ready for him to do your taxes yet?

Affleck’s Christian Wolff — it’s an alias, borrowed from the German philosopher — runs a quiet strip mall accounting firm, a front for his big time, bad guy clients, for whom he cooks books and pulls down millions for his services.

He’s an absolute whiz with numbers, which we know because he scribbles long-form equations on panes of glass, the surefire sign of a movie genius (see also “Good Will Hunting,” “The Social Network”). There’s a centerpiece sequence in “The Accountant” where Affleck’s Wolff is about to do some serious numbering, and he lays out his dry erase markers and blows on his fingers before he gets going. Telling you, “Burlesque” watched this movie and thought it was too campy.

Let’s see, there’s also J.K. Simmons as an agent with the Department of Treasury who is looking to take down Wolff, Anna Kendrick as a fellow accountant with whom Wolff shares a tender moment or two, and Jon Bernthal (“Wolf of Wall Street”) as a slick-talking hitman-type who looks like he just stepped out of New York Fashion Week. Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow round out the talented cast, all of whom must have thought they were signing on to something better.

They weren’t. Bill Dubuque’s screenplay is full of conveniences and contrivances, and features one of those third-act scenes where a character spells out the entire movie for the audience like he’s going down a checklist of lingering plot points. Director Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior”), tasked with bringing coherence to this unholy monster, can’t figure heads from tails and winds up with some unsurprisingly jarring shifts in tone.

“The Accountant” feels like a movie that should have been dumped in February, where it might have been greeted as a surprisingly goofy seasonal oddity. Coming now, as the leaves are turning and Hollywood is supposed to be offering up its best and brightest, it feels like a total misfire from top to bottom. Check the numbers again, this is all around bad accounting.

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Twitter: @grahamorama

‘The Accountant’


Rated R for strong violence and language throughout

Running time: 128 minutes

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