Affleck, The Accountant Provide Mix Of Action And Character

The Accountant stars Ben Affleck as "Christian Wolf" current alias of a very unique autistic man, whose militaristic father forced him and his younger brother to confront the harshness and brutality of life at a very early age. After bad circumstances landed him prison, Christian met a mentor named Francis (Jeffrey Tambor), who taught Christian everything there is to know about the assassin business. Combines with his remarkable cognitive skills (especially with numbers), Christian spends his days as an accountant, while moonlighting as one of the world's top hitmen.

Things take a turn when Christian takes a job auditing a major company owned by Lamar Black (John Lithgow), Rita Blackburn (Jean Smart) and Ed Chilton (Andy Umberger). Dana (Anna Kendrick), one of the company's accountants, found a discrepancy in the books, and that anomaly brings Christian closer and closer to uncovering a major conspiracy. However, as Christian delves into the mystery of the numbers, forces from his other life begin to gather against him. Soon Christian is on a collision course with another assassin (Jon Bernthal), and a Treasury Department official (J.K. Simmons) who all have their own scores to settle.

Ben Affleck Stars in The Accountant Movie (2016)
(Photo: Warner Bros. )

The latest film by Gavin Hood (Warrior), The Accountant is a unique mix of intense action and deep characters study, using an unusual premise and lead character. Somehow, the combination of odd parts sums up to an intriguing film punctuated by some great action moments. It's also an equally intriguing performance from Affleck, who manages to carry the film on his well-toned shoulders.

From a directorial standpoint, The Accountant is another solid and cohesive vision from Hood, who typically likes to use working class Americana settings as backdrops for extraordinary stories. The Accountant is now different, and Hood uses his directorial eye and the crispy cinematography of Seamus McGarvey (The Avengers, Godzilla) to make the mundane look vibrant. In terms of action, this is probably Hood's most accomplished work yet, and the director makes the jump to doing complex sequences of shootouts and brutal hand-to-hand combat like a seasoned pro. In fact, The Accountant has some of the best action sequences of Affleck's career, which is no small claim.

Writer Bill Dubuque (The Judge) does a good job weaving together the present day mystery of Christian's investigation with flashbacks from his childhood. It's a pretty standard narrative structure, but the difference is that Dubuque manages to make the flashbacks have more weight and relevance than the standard plot-filler type.

The flashback sequences in The Accountant feel relevant to the central mystery, adding layers to Christian in a way that propels things forward, with each new detail we learn setting up the next step in the present day action, while providing basis for Christian's actions and choices. The two storylines dovetail well enough to keep the pace moving while allowing for rumination - with only the occasional drag. Best of all, the many threads of the story actually tie together for a satisfying conclusion, which actually strips back all the fantastical elements to resonate on the personal level, like pretty much all of Gavin Hood's films, thus far.

Ben Affleck gives one of his most interesting performances as Christian. Obviously, Batman fans will be pleased to hear that Affleck's action chomps have never looked better onscreen. Due to his mental condition, Christian handles combat with mathematically brutal and precise efficiency, resulting in some smoothly choreographed and hard-hitting action. On the dramatic side, Affleck manages to walk the tightrope of playing an autistic character in a believable and human way, without disrespecting or trivializing the condition. In fact, some of The Accountant's most fun moments are the slower scenes of watching Christian attempt to interact with other characters - especially Anna Kendrick's Dana. Affleck works a lot of subtlety into the performance, which builds over the course of the film to payoff dividends at the end.

Jon Bernthal in The Accountant Movie
(Photo: Warner Bros. )

Jon Bernthal plays almost an opposing type: an assassin and enforcer full of charisma and a unique blend of crassness and social grace. It's probably one of Bernthal's most fun characters, and he rightly chews the scenery every time he's on screen. Close behind him is Anna Kendrick, who may be playing to type in this role (plucky, cute, oddball), but it's a type that has a necessary place in this story, as a proper and engaging foil to Christian. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow), are strong supports in their roles as the treasury agents on Christian's tail, while Robert C. Treveiler (Banshee) is a standout as young Chris' tough (but loving?) father. Rounding out things we get veteran actors like John Lithgow and Jean Smart, who aren't honestly needed to hold down their small parts, but are welcome faces nonetheless.

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In the end, The Accountant is a rare things to see these days: a character-driven story that's worth the time and investment to watch. It's another solid-to-strong entry in Hood's filmography, and it's only going to help Affleck's reputation as a compelling action performer.

The Accountant will be in theaters on October 14, 2016. It is 2 hours and 8 minutes long, and is Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.