This past weekend I had the chance to check out the Blu-ray release of Ben Affleck’s THE ACCOUNTANT. I’m always on the fence when it comes to Affleck, even though the majority of the time, I really like what he directs and acts in (and that goes for Batman as well). Obviously, this film is not a horror one, but there is enough action, intrigue, and death to have kept me on my seat for the 2+ hour runtime. Though THE ACCOUNTANT isn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, it still managed to captivate me while also sending a positive and heartfelt message to the viewers.
THE ACCOUNTANT, directed by Gavin O’Connor, stars Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal and John Lithgow. The story centers around Christian Wolff (Affleck), an extremely private math savant, who on the surface, is your typical CPA. However, Christian is holding onto a much deeper secret, one that has gotten the attention of the Treasury Department, as he handles the books for some of the world’s most dangerous criminals. Intertwined in all the action and bloodshed however, is a much different story, a story that shines a light on what it’s like to have Asperger’s Syndrome.
For those not familiar with Asperger’s Syndrome, most people would categorize it as a high functioning form of Autism. Those that have it tend to be extremely smart but have a tendency to struggle when it comes to social skills. Affleck’s character could be defined as your typical case of Asperger’s Syndrome and throughout the duration of the film we see flashbacks to his childhood and how he got to where he is now. Though the film could have easily made fun of the condition, using it to their own advantage and rationalizing the behavior of someone who suffers from it, the director didn’t do that. Instead, he made it known that there is nothing wrong with anyone who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, or any other syndrome. That those that have it are unique and special and should be looked at for their talents not for their conditions.
With all that said, the acting from Ben Affleck is superb. He embodies the character of Christian in an almost effortless way. I’ll even admit, it evoked a bit of emotion from me, not in the “I’m going to cry” kind of way, but in the way that made you feel for Christian. I’ve seen Affleck in A LOT of movies, but I feel like his performance in THE ACCOUNTANT was something special and incredibly underrated. The other actor I was happy to see on screen was Jon Bernthal. Having been a fan of his since the first season of “The Walking Dead”, I am always pleased when I see him on screen. Whether he’s playing the good guy or a bad guy, he has a way of stealing the scenes from his counterparts with his performances and energy. Obviously, there are the two powerhouses, J.K. Simmons and John Lithgow, who are nothing short of terrific and Anna Kendrick who had her moments where she shined.
The only thing that I can think of as a downfall of this film would be parts of the story. Now mind you, the overall story and the integration of the subtext of Asperger’s Syndrome was terrific, but this film did not need to be over 2 hours long. I think where it suffered was in adding too many characters and too many storylines. Though I was entertained for the most part, I found myself becoming a bit confused as to the end game of all the characters. The main characters had their closure but I felt like Anna Kendrick’s character could have been done without. I figured the addition of her character had to do with more of a love interest than anything else. Had the writer tightened up certain aspects of the movie I think the overall feeling would have been more intense instead of dragging on in some parts.
Overall, THE ACCOUNTANT was a much needed break from all the horror films that I watch. The performances were terrific and there were aspects within the story that I found incredibly fascinating. Having grown up with a mom that was a math major and a brother who is an accountant, I never understood the fascination with numbers. Now being much older, I’ve come to learn that there is beauty in those equations and formulas, even if I don’t understand them fully. I applaud director Gavin O’Connor and writer Bill Dubuque for how they presented an character with Asperger’s Syndrome and for telling a story that let audiences know that people who have that are incredibly unique and wonderful. All in all, THE ACCOUNTANT is a great action/thriller with an added bonus of heart and soul that isn’t seen in many films of that genre.
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