American filmmaker Gavin O’Connor’s latest movie The Accountant plunges us in the dark and oppressive world of the financing of mafias and drug cartels. We propose you to (re)discover this fascinating thriller which borrows both from family dramas and from action movies such as the James Bond saga.
Christian Wolff is an accountant like no other. Between two appointments with Illinois farmers who want to pay less tax, this math genius, who has a form of autism, manages the affairs of some of the most violent and dangerous organizations in the world. So, he is under FBI investigation. In order to avoid prison, he decides to keep a low profile and gets hired at Living Robotics, a company that commercializes high-technology prosthetics. But, he discovers an anomaly in the company’s accounts and starts an ultraviolent manhunt in order to restore justice.
One year after he directed his previous feature film Jane Got a Gun, Gavin O’Connor gets back behind the camera and plunges the spectators in the tumultuous life of this complex and enigmatic character, brilliantly played by Ben Affleck.
Difference is strength
From the very beginning of the movie, the stage is set. In the darkness, the spectators follow a killer while he shoots nine people Then, without any transition, they are parachuted into a centre specialized in the treatment and rehabilitation of children suffering from psychological disorders before they end up facing Christian Wolff who is in the middle of an appointment. These first minutes are characteristic of the narrative scheme used, throughout the film, by Gavin O’Connor who multiplies flashbacks. Yet, even if they make the story harder to follow, these many time jumps allow us to understand Mr. Wolff’s personality and the effects of his disease.
Actually, the director insists a lot on the education that young Christian received from his father (played by Robert C. Treveiler) who wanted to make sure that his son would know how to defend himself and to adapt to his environment despite his psychological problems rather than to isolate him so that he would not get harmed. This explains how, as an adult, the accountant manages to blend into the mass and use the extraordinary skills that his autism confers him, such as his attention span and his perfectionism, in order to become a math genius and a real war machine. This idea is reinforced by Ben Affleck’s acting since he does not imitate Dustin Hoffman’s unforgettable performance in Rain Man at all but he adopts a stern, unemotional and taciturn attitude that reminds us of the soldiers or policemen played by such actors as Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood in many of their movies.
Nevertheless, The Accountant does not show an idealized vision of autism. Gavin O’Connor does not hide Christian Wolff’s relational disorders, notably when he does not manage to create a real relationship with Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), a young accountant who works at Living Robotics, even if he is obviously in love with her.
A different way of deciding what is right or wrong
Christian’s psychological condition confers him a peculiar vision of the world. He judges people according to his own criteria and does not hesitate to assassinate those he considers as evil. Conversely, he protects those who find favour in his sight. For instance, in order to decide whether he will kill a federal agent or not, he asks him if he is “a good father” and allows him to live only because he is.
Yet, this vision of good and evil prevails in the movie. Indeed, the spectators sympathize and even identify with Christian who is never described as a madman, even though he is an autistic killer. Inversely, the law enforcement authorities are not depicted as totally good. As the spectators follow the police inquiry into the work relationships of the accountant, they discover that the inspectors do not hesitate to set up all sorts of agreements with notable criminals in order to solve cases.
So, the film appears as a criticism of the whole society since, in the end, the only one who remains fair and faithful to his values is Christian, the autistic “moron”.
The Accountant, Gavin O’Connor, USA, 2016, 2h10, released in the United States of America on the 14th of October 2016, in Lebanon on the 27th of October 2016 and in France on the 1st of November 2016.