#1 movie, weekend of 10/14-10/16/16
What it is: An action film in which Ben Affleck plays an autistic accountant who uses his actuarial skills to infiltrate and bring down criminal organizations.
It’s rare to see a movie this genuinely and obliviously stupid. The Accountant feels like the work of a 12-year-old in his first screenwriting class: You can tell he’s absorbed some basic storytelling techniques but doesn’t know how to use them or have any worthwhile ideas to which they could be applied. For example, there’s a supporting character named Medina who works for the Treasury Department and is told that if she doesn’t figure out the accountant’s identity, she’ll be put in prison for lying about her criminal history on her job application. This threat is never important to the main story – in fact, Medina’s entire subplot is never really important to the main story – but I guess she needed a reason to find the accountant beyond the fact that it’s her job because your CHARACTERS need MOTIVATION in order for your story to have STAKES!
Similarly, why is Jon Bernthal’s assassin character so loaded down with “funny” behavioral quirks that at one point he enters a scene sucking on a lollipop for no reason? Because that stuff gives his character DEPTH! A guy who murders for money but also cracks jokes? Ha ha, who wrote this, Tarantino?!
I could go on – particularly about the fact that this action movie barely has a villain – but I’ll just note that the film tries to demonstrate what a brilliant accountant Affleck is by showing him advising some clients to falsify a home office deduction. This is not only a totally basic accounting trick but also a bad idea which will probably get the clients flagged for an audit. And yeah, I know that most action movie viewers probably don’t care about the accuracy of a film’s accounting scenes, but that’s probably why most action movies are not about accountants. If you’re going to make an action movie about an accountant, at least run the script by a real-life accountant so that your hero doesn’t seem like he sucks at his job.
This film feels like the sort of inherently ill-conceived project that tends to go down in history as a notorious flop, and the only reason I can think of that anyone in Hollywood would have thought it was a good idea is that a few scenes seem sincerely geared towards destigmatizing autism. It’s hard to take that message seriously, though, when I don’t know if the filmmakers actually know any more about autism than they do about accounting. It’s mind-boggling that Gigli killed Ben Affleck’s career and yet the incompetent movie in which he plays an autistic accountant secret agent has gone to #1.
Pretty cool poster, though.