What if Jason Bourne wasn’t an amnesiac super-soldier but rather a high-functioning autistic man with comparable fighting skills? That appears to be the general idea behind Gavin O’Connor’s “The Accountant,” a film suffering from such an identity crisis that it’s unclear exactly what kind of movie he’s trying to make. Though it starts out as both a fairly generic crime procedural and a zen-like character study about an on-the-spectrum math genius struggling to lead a normal life, it completely changes gears midway through and transforms into a straight-up action thriller. The problem is that “The Accountant” never stops being those other movies either, resulting in a convoluted and tonally unbalanced mess that is occasionally entertaining but feels like it’s a few drafts away from a finished product.
Small-town accountant Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) isn’t like everybody else. He’s highly intelligent, a proficient marksman and capable of winning a knife fight with only a belt. In fact, Christian isn’t even his real name; it’s just one of many aliases he uses to stay off the grid. Raised by his sadistic military father, who eschewed traditional therapy for an unorthodox childhood designed to prepare him for the toughness of the real world, the antisocial Christian now moonlights as a forensic accountant for dangerous criminal organizations, uncooking the books to locate missing money. Determined to stay one step ahead of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes division, led by director Raymond King (J.K. Simmons), Christian accepts a seemingly innocuous job auditing a high-profile robotics company after an accounting clerk named Dana (Anna Kendrick) discovers a discrepancy in the finances. But as Christian and Dana get closer to exposing the truth, they’re targeted by a contract killer (Jon Bernthal) who’s been hired by someone within the company to contain the leak.