The Accountant (9/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 128 minutes.
Not for children.
While this is a
violent thriller, it is also a remarkably sensitive look at autism.
While some might joke that the moral might be that even though your child is autistic, he or
she can still grow up to be an assassin, it’s actually much deeper than
that. While this autistic child, Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck), does, in
fact, grow up to be a humorless, violent killer, the movie strains to
show that even severely autistic children can have lives of value, a
point that is made many times throughout the film.
In fact, however,
Christian is an autistic savant. While only about 10% of autistic
children have savant syndrome, approximately 50% of savants are
Even though it’s
pretty long, director Gavin O’Connor keeps the pace steady and is aided
by a top flight cast that includes Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, John
Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor (who, for all his credits, will always be Hank
Kingsley [“Hey, Now!”] on The Larry Sanders Show for me) and Jean
Smart, who is greatly underused for an actress of her caliber. I would
have liked to have seen more of her. I can only assume that much of her
work ended up on the cutting room floor.
The movie starts by
introducing us to Christian as a child (Seth Lee), growing up with his parents and
brother (played by Jake Presley as a child). This establishes Christian as severely autistic, but when we
meet him decades later he is a dour accountant with little or no personality.
Because his father (Rob Treveiler) recognized that children would be cruel to someone as
different as Christian he put Christian and his brother through severe
training in martial arts.
As a result Christian is an unemotional
killing machine, not just an accountant. On the other side is Ray King
(Simmons), the head of the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement
Division who is trying to find the guy who seems to be killing a lot of
people. Ray hires a young analyst, Mary Beth Medina (Cynthia Addai–Robinson) to track the killer down.
Christian has an
unseen handler who talks to him electronically. She thinks he should go
underground for a while, so he takes a job with Living Robotics, a
cutting edge electronics company, which seems to have a discrepancy in
its books just as it is about to go public. Christian takes the job to
audit their books. Because he is a savant, he does a miraculous job. As
an aside, the campus of Georgia Tech served as the ultra modern
headquarters of Living Robotics.
There he meets Dana
Cummings (Kendrick), a junior accountant who uncovered the problem
and while her personality is a bit too much for Christian, there is an
Living Robotics is
run by Lamar Blackburn (Lithgow) and his sister, Rita (Smart).
Lamar has hired a security team, headed by Brax (Jon Bernthal), to protect him
and Brax is trying to find Christian, also.
All this sets the
stage for the movie. It’s Christian against everyone else, and O’Connor
does a good job of keeping it going with good tension aided immeasurably by the music of Mark Isham
which captures the action, emotion, and suspense of the story.
This is a well done
thriller that does not lag.