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THE MOVIE GUY: ‘Accountant’ adds up to minor fun

Credits

The Accountant

Warner Brother Films

Directed by Gavin O’Connor

Starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, J.K. Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson and John Lithgow

Rated R

2 and a half stars

Ben Affleck’s new movie, “The Accountant,” is a strange mix of an action flick and a character study. These two elements don’t always work well together, and the story is very convoluted, but there is just enough oddball fun here to make “The Accountant” worth the price of admission.

Affleck plays an autistic assassin, and the twist is that his autism gives him the ability to handle incredibly complex financial data, but also to become a master fighter and weapons expert. This strange mix of skills makes him into an ideal contractor for nefarious bad guys who need to launder some cash. These skills also protect him when those bad guys suddenly turn violent.

Affleck has always had a low-key charm to his acting, which makes him the perfect man to play this character. He has the physical presence to make him believable as an action hero while the character specs here provide ample motivation for his emotionally distant performance.

The question will be how audiences see this character. His autism gives him that emotional disconnection and the ability to concentrate and master specific skills. Does that make him ideally suited to become an assassin? Or are the filmmakers simply exploiting people with autism in order to put a unique twist on their action movie?

I suspect that different audiences will draw different opinions on the character, but the story itself is a wild ride of competing characters and plot elements. Initially, the film is very enjoyable in its world building, making the film into something of a guilty pleasure. Things do bog down in the second act as the filmmakers try to bring multiple storylines together for their finale. It doesn’t quite work, and the pace slows just enough for audiences to realize that the story is rather preposterous.

If there’s a saving grace, it’s that several of the characters are also quite remarkable. Affleck is the most notable, but Anna Kendrick’s mousy junior accountant and Jon Bernthal as a brilliant killer are very memorable. Let’s not forget performances by John Lithgow and J.K. Simmons, who are always capable of stealing a scene or two.

I’m also a big fan of the musical score, which builds dread over the course of the story. It forces the tension to rise as the film heads towards its climax.

All of which leaves me conflicted. There are some very good and unique elements to “The Accountant” that make it into a memorable action flick, but the story is all over the place and the film’s take on autism may very well offend some audiences. That’s probably why the filmmakers are releasing “The Accountant” in October rather than in the full heat of the summer movie season.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and KBTV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.com.