Monday, March 06, 2017

The Accountant


Like the famous artwork about dogs playing poker which lead protagonist Christian Wolff loves, the beauty of The Accountant is that it is also incongruous.

Accountants are perceived to be boring and special people that can make sense of a sheet of numbers.  The movie even exaggerated that point making Christian autistic – as if only a person born with narrow focus and social difficulties can understand a financial sheet.

What’s incongruous is that Christian is 6 foot 4 inches (Ben Affleck’s height, though not specifically stated as such in the movie) and build which doesn’t shout out hapless member of a bookish profession – though I understand it might be the normal height for an American. Filmmakers could have gone for someone more weakly looking and still deadly. Standing out was the point like dogs playing poker.

Which still comes back to would anyone have guessed considering his profession and condition that he would be an expert in hand to hand combat and trained sniper?

As a character Christian projected a vibe that was cross between A Beautiful Mind and 24. Ben doesn’t have Russell’s accent though thus the numbers part, the one when we’re all supposed to be impressed with the math, Christian sounds less smart as John Nash. What was more right was the sling bag and pistol which was so 24 which I really love.

The autism had an unexpected effect on the fight scenes. Yes, typically action heroes don’t exhibit fear, looking in control in the fight scenes. Christian Wolff feels almost robotic in his calculation – feels like the right word considering his love of math – when fighting hand to hand. 

In some way it looks corny being expressionless like the terminator but in another way how would someone with autism fight?  Wouldn’t it be unnerving to see someone still expressionless even after taking a few hits?

Beyond being good with numbers and being expressionless in battle, the autism didn’t add anything different to this action movie except maybe the lack of sex. Christian may be trained to be productive in spite of autism but not connecting to other human beings much less getting laid. 

Besides that Christian fits the stereotypical solitary action hero: having difficulty forming bonds – because they have their own rules – but extremely protective when they’ve found one.

The movie’s plot is like a puzzle which happens to be what Christian loves.  Audiences get to join in the ride as he solves it. The plot’s only fault is that it tends to become physically like a puzzle wherein pieces are all laid out; one has to do is just figure out where everything fits together.  Not much is left to shadow or imagination thus the twist was predictable by halftime.  I only had to wait and see how it all played out.

It played out bordering on corny and sweet. I need to be purposely vague now in spoiler territory but the ending may even be contrary with everything else. Harmony depends on what is the driving force behind Christian’s calling. The story did skew to a motivation but it felt insufficient to be a calling. Considering his autism the twist but compared to his calling it felt contrary.

Come to think of it the puzzle pieces laid out were essential to the plot, there was nothing too deep. But can there be depth in autism? If the story did go there, have depth, can Christian in his condition counter the subterfuge that his "clients" can bring to bare?

I think for realistic expectations The Accountant should then be classified as a joyride and it is a good one at that. Despite the ending I will welcome a sequel. A hero with the skills of Jason Bourne and yet collect comics and Luke Skywalker's lightsaber can't be bad.