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Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: The Accountant – Ben Affleck plays a bookkeeper and professional killer

Part thriller, drama and romance, the film is slickly executed and has good action sequences, but too many facets and plot lines somehow weaken the overall effect in this tale of an autistic assassin

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 3:58pm

3/5 stars

Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant sees Ben Affleck play an autistic bookkeeper, whose condition proves to be both a gift and a dangerous burden. Slickly executed yet overly ambitious, the film wrestles with too many narrative and thematic threads. Part action thriller, legal procedural, autism drama and mismatched romance, it is strong in parts but less than the total sum.

At the centre of it all is Christian Wolff (Affleck), who applies his incredible mathematical acuity to laundering money for criminal organisations. When hired by a large robotics company, he crosses paths with Anna Kendrick’s spunky in-house clerk, but the treasury department is already on his tail. J.K. Simmons’ gruff treasury director and new recruit Cynthia Addai-Robinson want Christian for his underworld clients, but discover too late that he’s also a highly proficient killer who won’t go down without a fight.

And this is where The Accountant gets weird. We learn how Christian’s army dad refused to let his son be pampered, instead training him and his brother in close-quarters combat and self-defence. Christian now has a secret stash of gold, priceless art and a small arsenal of automatic weapons. But while his cautiousness is understandable considering his clientele, the character has never done anything to suggest they would turn on him.

Things do inevitably go wrong, of course, and Kendrick, who also appeared in the hitman rom-com Mr. Right (coincidentally out on the same day in Hong Kong), again finds herself emotionally involved with an expert killer. With everyone from the government to Jon Bernthal’s rogue assassin now gunning for them, Christian proves chillingly adept at taking human life when his comfortable operation is threatened.

The film always plays best when Affleck embodies the man of action, either busting out Indonesian martial arts to take down henchmen, or covering the walls of an entire room in mathematical equations as he explores a company’s accounting history. Whenever he’s asked to emote, reflect or earn our sympathy, however, The Accountant inevitably misses its target.

The Accountant opens on October 13

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