Thoughts on The Accountant

AccountantI have been hoping to see The Accountant for some time and finally got to watch it today. I was not disappointed. It was one of the best movies that I have seen in a long time. It was entertaining as an action movie but I appreciated it on another level as well.

Ben Affleck plays a man who is gifted with numbers and who works as an accountant for criminals (among others) to “cook” their books. Technically, this makes him a criminal, but the story is much more complicated than that. He has a strict moral code and will stand up for what he believes to be right. This leads him into the role of a vigilante. His autism, along with making him a gifted accountant, allows him to be a talented marksman and fighter as well.

My interest in this, beyond enjoying action movies, is the topic of autism. The first question to ask is whether this movie portrays a stereotype of autism. Yes it does. But we must remember that movies live on stereotypes. Preachers, police, musicians or any other role, are always based on stereotypes when it comes to movies. That’s the nature of the beast.

I will mention two things, just in case this is some people’s first introduction to autism. Most people with autism do not have savant abilities. They are quite rare. Also, not every person with autism is as unemotional as Affleck’s character. Some are but many, such as my children, are very emotional.

Was this a positive portrayal of autism? He is a criminal and kills quite a few people. But I don’t think that this is the fear mongering that we often see in media portrayals of people with mental health issues. He comes across as dangerous only to those who are threatening the innocent. If he did not have autism and acted the same way, he would not seen as a negative character.

There are definitely some ethical issues in this movie. Affleck’s character helps some very bad people and makes a good profit doing it. He kills people and does not face any consequences.

Still, there were some good scenes that dealt with autism and I thought the conclusion of the movie was quite powerful. As an autism parent, I was happy to see a generally good portrayal of autism. I highly recommend The Accountant.

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