As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise.
ActorsStarring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, Jean Smart, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Andy Umberger, Alison Wright, Daeg Faerch, Inder Kumar, Michael Beasley
You can envision the pitch to the studio now: “like Jason Bourne, but with an autistic accountant.” It is tough to make an engaging movie about autism without Dustin Hoffmann, more so about an accountant. So it is fortunate that the main character is a dab hand at martial arts and high calibre weapons as well as being a whiz with figures.
Ben Affleck’s character Christian Wolff has a classic movie backstory – he has a loving yet tough and demanding father who teaches his boy martial arts in order to ward off school bullies. With an idetic memory and great maths talent he goes into accountancy but figures out that to make real money he needs to work for gangsters rather than a big corporate. He becomes a “gun for hire” independent doing forensic accounting, such as working out who is skimming the drug money.
Being autistic, he doesn’t form relationships easily, but on a seemingly routine accounting job encounters Dana Cummings (played by Anna Kendrick), an auditor who takes a shine to him despite his lack of social skills. He quickly finds that there is something murky going on in the company that has hired him. The audience already intuitively knows this since its CEO is played by John Lithgow, and so we all know that will never end well.
To show his caring side we see Mr Afleck’s character help a mom and pop farming outfit fiddle their tax returns and then employs his military-grade assassin skills to save them when they are mysteriously attacked by gangsters. It was lucky that he happened to be practicing his sniper skills on their farm at the exact moment they were attacked. With his new found desire to assist the vulnerable that mysteriously eluded him when he was working for ruthless drug dealers, it is no surprise that Ms Cummings soon turns up in the cross hairs of further mobsters. Mayhem duly ensues.
This plot would be creaky enough without an absurd subplot about a treasury agent nearing retirement and his pretty young protege, and an even more bonkers encounter involving his long lost brother. By now the audience has long since given up seeking narrative clarity, so is just waiting for him to kiss the girl and start shooting things.
Ben Affleck does a serviceable job as the accountant/assassin with a heart, and there are a few mildly entertaining one liners. However the action scenes lack either real grittiness or even the theatricality that can alternatively work well (think John Woo films). The film therefore doesn’t shine as an action movie and barely tries to take itself seriously as a drama. It falls limply between these two stools. Rain Man it isn’t.