Super Geek

Ben Affleck is an accountant by day, superhero by night

In between Batman movies, Ben Affleck decided to play Batman again. The Accountant amps up the Asperg-ery side of the hero, disposing of the cape but not his fantastic fighting abilities. And Bruce Wayne is disguised as a Midwestern bean counter.

Affleck plays Christian Wolff—the Christian helps the weak, the wolf punishes the strong. Wolff describes himself as a person with high-functioning autism, but this isn’t even one of Affleck’s top 10 autistic performances in a movie. He’s never been a big reactor—he’s more like some sort of energy sink that absorbs the acting of others. In The Accountant, Affleck constantly smudges the outline of his character, showing sympathy and affection between the fight scenes.

In flashback, we see how Wolff acquired his extracurricular skills, from being beaten up by a bulky Asian martial arts instructor to training to become a world-class sniper in the military. Back in the present time, he’s hunted by old-dog treasury agent J. K. Simmons and his new recruit (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). Meanwhile, a mysterious enforcer (Jon Bernthal of The Punisher) is tracking down friends of Wolff’s clients.

It’s all connected to some sketchy accounting at a robotics firm run by a grandfatherly CEO (John Lithgow). While auditing the books, Wolff meets a friendly young pixie named Dana (Anna Kendrick), who is one of the firm’s accountants. Kendrick gives a lot of her usual nervous displays of ivory teeth while seeking to know this mysterious wolf, his beautiful mind and his pair of cold shoulders.

One of the film’s problems, though, is that chunks of narrative seem to have disappeared, replaced by rhetorical questions to bridge the gap, like, “Risking your life for a girl you’ve known less than a week? Why?” At one point, we learn that Wolff’s childhood advice from his father was “Being too different scares people”—counsel that director Gavin O’Connor would have done better ignoring.

The Accountant is playing in wide release in the North Bay.