I saw this movie several weeks ago now. I've been waiting for some time to pass, hoping that would improve my opinion of this film, before writing a review of it.
It hasn't worked.
The basic premise wasn't actually too bad and could have provided a suitable foundation for an excellent action thriller. Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff, a solo CPA who audits the books of shadowy, criminal organisations, the Mafia and so forth. He also happens to be a martial arts expert and a crack shot, who maintains an arsenal of weapons and large supplies of cash in a secret trailer. The purpose of the trailer isn't revealed until the end of the film. Meanwhile, his activities come to the attention of Raymond King (played by JK Simmons), a senior official of the US Treasury Department. He decides to probe Wolff's activities and see where they lead. At the same time, Wolff is hired by the Living Robotics Co. to investigate its finances; a major embezzlement is suspected. He is assisted by the company's junior accountant, Dana Cumming, played by Anna Kendrick. Things go badly wrong and both Wolff and Dana end up being pursued by various baddies as well as by the US Treasury agents.
So far so good. The trouble is, the main story becomes impossibly submerged by too many sub-plots and too many flashbacks. Wolff was born an autistic kid and this naturally affects his approach to life and his profession. His father was a tough military man who didn't believe in mollycoddling a disability; his child must learn to cope with a mean world and dad will treat and train him accordingly. Then there is another subplot concerning Wolff's younger brother, who becomes a professional hitman in his adult life. Their paths will inevitably cross, with rather silly and unbelievable results. Then there is the story of Wolff's previous relationship with Treasury Agent King and their run-ins with criminal organisations. And of course, there is the relationship between Wolf and Dana: since he is constantly saving her from assorted, ill-explained assassins, will his residual autism allow him to get close to Dana, which she seems to want? In the end, does anybody really care?
Apart from a very-difficult-to-follow plot, my other main objection is the level of gun violence in this movie. Guns are used gratuitously and the body count is huge. Wolff and other characters seem to believe that the only way to solve any disagreement with anyone is a fusillade of bullets. Shoot first and sort out the mess later, is the order of the day. This movie could almost be regarded as a paid advertisement for the NRA – though I am sure that was not the movie-makers' intention. Nowhere, at least in recent movies, have I seen the American fascination with guns and gun culture on more obvious and chilling display.
I have seen this film justified as a serious attempt to explore autism and bring this difficult disorder to wider public attention. All I can say is, if sufferers from autism are encouraged by this film to solve all their problems with guns, as Wolff does here, then heaven help us. Christian Wolff is not a good role model for autism sufferers.
I took a female friend to this film. That was a mistake. She was upset, I was embarrassed, and we both agreed we had wasted our time and money.
It's not that the acting is bad (it isn't), or the movie is too long (it isn't). Affleck is very good at playing cold characters without emotion and he does a good job in his role as Christian Wolff. JK Simmons as the dogged Treasury agent trying to get to the bottom of a real can of worms, is also good. Anna Kendrick as the (maybe) cute and innocent Dana, is, er, suitably cute and innocent. I have always rather liked Kendrick and she is good here, I must admit. The director, Gavin O'Connor, moves the plot along at a nice rate of knots, but ultimately can't overcome the tangled density of the plot(s) and the unpleasantly overwhelming nature of the movie's gunplay.
Sadly, I can only give this movie * * 3/4 stars out of five.