THE ACCOUNTANT (2016)
Starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jean Smart, Andy Umberger, Alison Wright, Jason Davis, Robert C. Treveiler, Mary Kraft, Seth Lee, Jake Presley, Izzy Fenech, Ron Prather, Susan Williams, Gary Basaraba, Fernando Chien, Alex Collins and Tait Fletcher.
Screenplay by Bill Dubuque.
Directed by Gavin O’Connor.
Distributed by Warner Bros. 128 minutes. Rated R.
If you take it just at the basic premise – Ben Affleck plays an autistic math-savant bookkeeper for the underworld, who may or may not have a sideline as a hit man – this movie doesn’t sound like it will amount to much. Don’t let that oddball description fool you, The Accountant is arguably one of the best action movies so far this year. Smart, scary, funny, complex and action-packed, it is a surprisingly full-bodied success on pretty much every level.
Affleck takes what could be a stock character and plays him with quiet humor and lots of oddball quirks. After all, he is a genius at bookkeeping who keeps the books of some of America’s least savory companies while hiding in plain sight in a strip mall. He lives in a mobile home parked inside a storage unit, his home full of money, false IDs, munitions and original masterpiece paintings. He may or may not (it’s left somewhat unclear until the very end) have a sideline as a hit man for hire, in which he uses his peculiar mental powers to compartmentalize and plan each step of a particular kill. One thing that is for sure, even if he’s not an official hit man, he has left a long and bloody trail of corpses in his wake.
The Accountant isn’t so much of a whodunit (if you don’t pick out who the main baddie is early on you probably aren’t trying that hard) as a howdunit. Together with a couple of rogue federal agents, we’re trying to figure out what the deal is with this guy. Why has he killed so many people? Who is the ruthless hit man (Bernthal) seemingly circling his atmosphere? If he’s a heartless killer, why is he trying so hard to save a woman he barely knows (Kendrick)? Who is the sultry-sounding woman who seems to plan out his every move? And why does he have an original Jackson Pollack painting over his bed?
Then again, there are a series of flashback that only seem to confuse things more. His dad almost cruelly forcing him and his little brother to stand up to bullies no matter how outnumbered they are. Dad eventually takes the kids to a proto-Kung Fu sort of Asian martial arts academy where dad insists the teacher beat them down until they can fight him off. His deep-seeded mental issues with Asperger’s syndrome in a children’s home which makes him do puzzles upside down and freak out when one piece is missing.
All these strange and crazy strands end up coming together in surprising, smart, exciting ways, leaving the viewer wondering how he could have missed that connection.
So trust me, even if the title seems a little dull, the film itself certainly never is.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 14, 2016.