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The Accountant movie review: an awkward and funny financial thriller

Aleesha Matharu | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

Ben Affleck hasn't had the best year - the appalling Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has yet to fade from memory.

Taking a break from his Batman duties, The Accountant sees Ben Affleck play Christian Wolff, an autistic anti-hero who is really good at mathematics and killing people.

So it's not as boring a movie as the title makes it out to be.

More than anything, you realise at the end, particularly after the central twist, that the movie is about daddy issues. As a young child, Christian's father, an army man, ensures he and his brother learn how to fight because being 'different' means people will always pick on you. It's a tough love style that won't sit well with most people - it feels like cruelty in the name of being taught self defense.

Directed by Gavin O'Connor and scripted by Bill Dubuque, the movie then shows us how grown-up Christian works for some big time crime syndicates by cleaning up their books because he's a walking talking calculator with an inbuilt Jason Bourne kill switch. Basically, he divides his time between some number crunching and killing scores of extras with a semi-automatic.

Aware that the Treasury Department is on his trail, Christian (whose aliases are the names of famous mathematicians) decides to take on a major legitimate client: Living Robotics, a company that specialises in making prosthetic limbs. Just as the company is about to go public, a junior accountant at that firm Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) discovers that there's a $61 million discrepancy in the books.

Meanwhile, a hitman (Jon Bernthal) with a mysterious agenda is working his way through robotics executives and heading toward Dana and Christian. It's the only time where Christian seems less robotic - he's so uncomfortable in his own skin that he only relaxes when he floods himself with sensory inputs like strobe lights and deafening music - because he actually reorganises his plans to keep Dana alive.

But the possibility of a romantic entanglement quickly gets pushed aside in favour of the ultra macho line very quickly.

Some twists and turns follow, a few of them contrived. For example, Raymond King's (JK Simmons as the head of the Treasury department) interest in Christian is more than just a little farfetched.

Affleck gives one of his better performances here, he meticulously plays his autistic fighting genius. It's Kendrick's perfect comedic timing that really lifts the movie and Bernthal, as head of the team of assassins, is a brilliant bad guy.

In the wrong hands, this movie could have been one of the worst movie that 2016 had to offer particularly because of its strange assumption that someone with Asperger's Syndrome is potentially wired to become a ruthless killing machine.

But director Gavin O'Connor demonstrates the right way to handle such material with little bursts of thoughtfulness. So even though it's an unbelievable character, its a fun ride from start to end.

The verdict

It's an unusual thriller - the body count is high, and the kills are straight from a video game - and has its fair share of flaws, but it's far more compelling than it possibly had any right to be with its mixed bag of number crunching and bone crunching.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

First published: 14 October 2016, 11:08 IST
Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

Born in Bihar, raised in Delhi and schooled in Dehradun, Aleesha writes on a range of subjects and worked at The Indian Express before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not at work you can find her glued to the TV, trying to clear a backlog of shows, or reading her Kindle. Raised on a diet of rock 'n' roll, she's hit occasionally by wanderlust. After an eight-year stint at Welham Girls' School, Delhi University turned out to be an exercise in youthful rebellion before she finally trudged her way to J-school and got the best all-round student award. Now she takes each day as it comes, but isn't an eternal optimist.