The world’s understanding of autism and associated conditions has changed a great deal in a relatively short amount of time, with popular culture often struggling to catch up with ever-shifting psychiatric definitions and everyday conceptions of Asperger’s and other neuroatypical diagnoses in the public sphere; and movies are no exception. It’s often hard to believe that films like Rain Man were produced as recently as they were, as Hollywood continues to evolve in its portrayal of individuals of these and other conditions.
Case in point: The new trailer for Ben Affleck’s new action-thriller The Accountant, where the Batman V Superman star portrays a “math savant” who parlays his unique skills (and social challenges) into a career as an organized crime accountant — until things go wrong.
Directed by Gavin O’Connor, the film features Affleck as a man taught to stand up for himself and use his differences to his advantage as a child. As an adult, he works as a financial advisor whose skills are prized by international crime syndicates for his uncanny ability to “cook” (and then uncook) the books on their illegal enterprises — only to see his carefully managed world turned upside down when he takes on a legitimate client and finds himself in the crosshairs of dangerous men. Says the film’s official synopsis:
“Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (J.K. Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.”
O’Connor is best known as the director of the 2004 Olympic hockey biopic Miracle and 2011’s mixed martial-arts drama Warrior, along with the troubled Natalie Portman western vehicle Jane Got a Gun, released with little fanfare earlier this year. The screenplay was written by relative newcomer Bill Dubuque, whose prior credits include The Judge and The Headhunter’s Calling.
The trailer certainly shows a lot of polish, and clearly looks to be aiming at presenting what some might consider exploitative subject matter with a fair degree of seriousness; though it remains somewhat jarring to see Affleck seemingly still sporting his massive Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice physique under normal business attire. Criticism will almost certainly arise from the possibility that the film could end up being another well-intentioned but overly simplistic presentation of autism as a kind of “super power” (complete with shots showing Affleck’s Wolff demonstrating greater proficiency with sniper rifles and machine guns than would be expected of an accountant) rather than a unique and challenging real-world condition that millions of people live with worldwide — and the pressure will likely be heavy on Affleck’s performance to make the difference.
The Accountant will be released in theaters on October 14, 2016.
Source: Warner Bros.