Directed by Gavin O’Connor
Written by Bill Dubuque
It has been a good year for Ben Affleck. Especially now that he seems positioned as DC’s center actor to bring the Justice League together much akin to Robert Downey’s role in the Marvel universe. Seeing him jump into an action film with a slight twist is a safe move for Ben, but the film felt just in a word…”safe”. Now the action sequences are good, but where this film falls flat is not having more flashbacks to show the gradual increase of ability or further develop the intrigue of this character which is simply a ‘highly functioning autistic person’ who is trained to be an expert mission operator. Here is where I feel the writer could have taken a neat concept and really made this film great. Be warned this is where the spoilers begin.
Throughout the film Ben Affleck breaks character. What I mean is there are times he is showing us the character is autistic with ticks and repetitive mannerisms. Then there are times he is able to make eye contact, carry on fun conversations like when he was showing off the numbers to Anna Kendrick’s character, and times where the film just doesn’t show you how he was able to adjust and ‘act’ normal. Now I have studied autism and I am somewhat aware of the challenges faced by those with autism.
Not to dwell upon that issue, but rather focus on the script here is what could have been done instead to elevate this film to a category of must see again. I would have Ben’s character flashback to some incident that has the autistic brother killed or severely harmed, and as a result the other non-autistic brother adopts his autistic brother’s mannerisms in order to focus to develop his abilities in the realm of mathematics, marksmanship, etc. It would be a complex character development to handle, but I feel they were already doing so with the few flashbacks they showed. You can see the non-autistic brother pay very close attention to his autistic brother’s mannerisms, and would be front seat to learn how he was able to develop certain skills.
Think the film “The Prestige”. In that film it was twin brothers living one life, but here in this film you could have one brother continuing his life in honor of his brother. Then the mistakes that Ben makes during the film become bread crumbs instead of mistakes. Now you have a film that would demand a second viewing to catch the ‘mistakes’. Finally the film’s title “The Accountant” would take on a deeper meaning as the non-autistic brother held himself ‘accountable’ for what happened to his brother and how he is living his life. That would have taken a good film and elevated it to a great film.