This weekend, the number-one movie in America is poised to be Gavin O'Connor's The Accountant, a thriller that stars Ben Affleck as an assassin with Asperger's syndrome. It's that rarest of birds, a Hollywood film not based on any preexisting intellectual property that's opening on more than 3,000 screens. It is also, unfortunately, a bit of a mess. To call The Accountant a potboiler would imply that every time a pot boiled, its lid went flying through the ceiling, the water overflowed, and then the stove burned your house down. Whether through studio meddling or an overambitious script, somebody forgot to connect a few of the movie's dangling threads. Either that or, unlike the titular accountant Christian Wolff, I simply do not have the unique cognitive abilities necessary to follow it. Here are 20 questions that you may find yourself asking while walking out of The Accountant:
Spoilers for The Accountant below, sort of.
1. What was Affleck's dad doing in the Army, exactly? Was he Jason Bourne?
2. Why does child-Affleck's brother never say a word? Is there something wrong with him, or did they just not want to give the kid a SAG card?
3. Why is Affleck feeding the Treasury department information, anyway? Just so he can help out J.K. Simmons's character?
4. If Affleck was an informant the whole time, why did J.K. Simmons make Cynthia Addai-Robinson go through all the trouble of finding him? What did they even learn from that?
5. What was going on at the robotics company? John Lithgow was stealing money and then funneling it back in? Why, so he could inflate the company's value? And how did he, a robotics company CEO, have the connections necessary to get a small private army to function as his death squad?
6. Okay, let's take the embezzling stuff at face value. Even then, why the hell did Lithgow bring Affleck in in the first place? Because if Jon Bernthal was working for Affleck all along, and it's Bernthal who makes Lithgow's CFO kill himself, then couldn't the two of them have just done that before they started the audit? Sure, maybe it was for cover, but Anna Kendrick has already found the error — Lithgow's company didn't need to bring in some mysterious accountant to make it plausible that he'd panic.
7. Speaking of Bernthal's character, is the guy just a mercenary? Does he have a security company? Why was there that scene of him bullying the Swiss banker? What kind of operation is this, anyway?
8. Did the farmer not think it was weird that Affleck had an anti-tank rifle that he used to shoot cantaloupe?
9. Why did J.K Simmons stop protecting Jeffrey Tambor in the first place? His character's whole rationale was basically, "I'm bad at my job."
10. Shouldn't Affleck have wanted to kill Simmons for that betrayal, since it was Simmons's fault that Tambor died — not help him get promoted? And shouldn't part of the deal with that have been, "I'll help you, and you don't investigate me"?
11. Why did nobody care that there were a bunch of dead bodies on Anna Kendrick's floor? There wasn't anyone who was like, "Hmm, maybe we should talk to this accountant about why there was a massive gun battle in her apartment"?
12. What is she possibly going to do with a genuine Jackson Pollack?
13. So the autistic woman played by The Americans' Allison Wright is Affleck's handler slash manager — how did she learn to do literally any of the things she's doing if she's been living in that facility her entire life? Just having a powerful computer doesn't seem like it would be quite enough.
14. Was Affleck in Leavenworth just because he beat up a bunch of people at his mom's funeral? If he was some super-secret military killing machine, why did the Army drop him so quickly? Especially considering his dad got shot at that funeral?
15. Where was his brother this whole time? In mercenary school?
16. If Affleck has such a strict moral code, why is he working with these cartels and terrorists? Just for the money, so he can give it to the neuroscience research facility? Seems like there's an easier way to make a little cash and lay low than uncooking the books for the Sinaloa cartel.
17. Bernthal's got a point — why hasn't Affleck ever reached out to him? Wasn't a big thing that he was Affleck's only friend growing up?
18. What was the government taking credit for at the end? The murder of most of the C-suite executives at a major robotics corporation? Is that really less important than some Treasury investigation?
19. How was Affleck always able to avoid having his face photographed? That seems like a superpower, not just some spy technique.
20. Is this really what it's like to be an accountant?