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Film Review: Ben Affleck measures life by the numbers in “The Accountant”

Grade: A

Listen up accounting students: there’s more to life than just doing the books for some large multi-national corporation or running your own small business. Now when you receive your degree, you can put your knowledge to the true test and work in forensic accounting, which is the practice of using accounting skills to analyze financial information for embezzlement or fraud for use in legal proceedings. So worry not about finding a job after graduation and earn yourself a name in forensic accounting just as Christian “Chris” Wolff (Ben Affleck) does in “The Accountant.” Also, if you’re proficient with a .50 caliber sniper rifle or the Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat, those might be great skills to have as well.

On a serious note, “The Accountant” is much more interesting than its name suggests and it’s a lot more complex than just measuring debits and credits. In fact, its greatest asset is the unforeseen acting ability of Affleck in the title role of Wolff, who lives under the eponymous alias “The Accountant.”

Wolff, who makes his living uncooking the books of criminal organizations that are dealing with internal embezzlement, lives in solitude and was diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism at a young age. He works at ZZZ Accounting in Plainfield, Ill., where he takes care of the financial deceptions of criminal organizations brokered to him by “The Voice,” a mysterious entity that contacts him on his cell phone. When he is assigned to uncook the books of the robotics corporation Living Robotics in an effort to elude the director of financial crimes for the United States Department of the Treasury Raymond King (J.K. Simmons) and his subordinate Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), the story begins to take a sharp turn. Wolff and Living Robotics’ staff accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) uncover a large company loss as a result of an embezzling scheme.

Make sure you’re paying attention when you watch this one. Director Gavin O’Connor does a great job of engaging the audience; meaning, making them think. There are loads of open-ended questions that go unanswered until the climax at the end and then viewers may share a collective “a-ha” moment when they find out what they’re looking for. Just try not to get distracted by the various special effects, gunfire and kick-butt fight choreography.

Driving the movie’s plot is Affleck’s stoic, unpredictable and reserved character. He’s a man on a mission and he’s especially determined to live up to his alias, “The Accountant.” Much of the action used in his fighting scenes seems to be taken straight out of a film role that nearly preceded this film, which was his role as none other than The Dark Knight in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” that debuted in March of 2016. Numerous calculated maneuvers dominate his scenes and every movement and fighting situation is carefully choreographed. It’s almost like he’s being paid to eliminate bad guys.

The casting director made an excellent choice when casting the likes of Affleck as Wolff and Kendrick as Cummings. Cummings is apprehensive yet steadfast when it comes to working and becoming friendlier with Wolff and Wolff is awkward and timid when interacting with her, which all leads to enthralling chemistry between the two of them. In fact, it nearly reaches a tipping point where a romance starts to brew. Perhaps we will see more of this in a sequel, considering that “The Accountant” has an enormous potential for one.

“The Accountant” is the blockbuster nobody anticipated to debut in October, of all months. The film might have seen greater success if it made it onto the summer hit list, which seems to garner most of the high energy action thrillers. You can look at this in two ways; it might have been a grave marketing and distribution error due to not reaching large audiences or a work of pure genius thanks to a serious lack of competition in theaters. That being said, “The Accountant” would have been successful even if it went straight to home media. Thankfully it did not, because this pulse-pounding feature and all of its glory is much more enjoyable to watch on the big screen.

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