Preposterous can be defined in many, many ways. But for now, let’s use the plot details of The Accountant as Exhibit A. Ben Affleck, bravely tackling an impossible role, stars as Christian Wolf, a math wiz whose position on the autism spectrum has made him perfect material to moonlight as a paid assassin. That notion is offensive on so many levels, especially in the service of such low-grade crime fiction, that it’s hard to focus on the other faults in the script by Bill Dubuque, who previously punished us with The Judge. And the talented director Gavin O’Connor (Miracle, Warrior) should know better than to let bad things happen to good actors. But that’s what occurs, and it’s painful to witness.
Christian lives in an Airstream trailer full of weapons, cash, gold bullion, and paintings by Renoir and Jackson Pollack (bought on the black market, of course). Once in a while he gets a call from a mysterious woman who tells him about his next assignment – forensic auditing for drug lords, a hit for the Gambino family, and sometimes just a plain old accounting job. That’s why Christian keeps a storefront office in an Illinois strip mall. So off he goes to Living Robotics, a firm run by Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow), a tech genius whose sister (Jean Smart) hires Christian to figure out how $70 million went missing from their books. He gets help from Dana (Anna Kendrick), a numbers cutie who relates to Christian in spite of his limited social skills. Much (alleged) humor is mined from oue hero’s mental challenges. Then the duo are forced to go on the run from a group of super-baddies led by Brax (Jon Bernthal), a mysterious figure from Christian’s past. The backstory, such as it is, tells us that the numbers-genius savant was the victim of a military father unwilling to let his son be a freak. So naturally, he instead training the boy as a killing machine. Right.
It goes on, stranding an expert cast, including Jeffrey Tambor as Christian’s mentor and the great J.K. Simmons as the Fed director on Christian’s tail. The last third of the film, where the explanations come, degenerates into pure camp, evoking other synonyms for preposterous – my favorites being silly, senseless and effing stupid.