Entertainment

‘The Accountant’ is intense, laced with humor

In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, John Lithgow, left, and Ben Affleck appear in a scene from "The Accountant."
In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, John Lithgow, left, and Ben Affleck appear in a scene from "The Accountant." AP

What It's About: "The Accountant" is a twisty-turny Rubik's Cube of a movie.

Through an interesting prism of the autism spectrum, Ben Affleck stars as an unlikely action hero.

If we didn't learn that Christian Wolff (Affleck) had Asperger's Syndrome but is high-functioning, we might describe him as an "odd duck."

Socially awkward and a loner, his genius has made him a valuable CPA to crime syndicates. However, he has strong convictions about truth and justice.

In addition to math skills, he's adept at martial arts and marksmanship.

All are on display as treasury agents try to figure out his identity and he gets mixed up with a bio-medical-tech company's secrets after he audits them.

Bill Dubuque's script is clever and the puzzle pieces eventually fall into place, some more mind-bending than others.

But this film is far more entertaining than it seems, intense and laced with unexpected humor.

Performances: Ben Affleck ("Batman vs. Superman") capably projects both the brains and brawn of Christian Wolff, believable as a savant and a lethal weapon.

In her appealing way, Anna Kendrick ("Pitch Perfect") is the conduit for connection, the smart girl he can feel more comfortable with than ever.

The ensemble is first-rate and their consummate skills add much credibility to perfunctory supporting roles.

Reliable J.K. Simmons ("Whiplash") is the hard-boiled Treasury Department investigations chief about to retire — of course!

He grooms Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) as a sharp investigator, and she is impressive in the role.

Usual bad guy Jon Bernthal ("Sicario") is well-suited to play a slick, swaggering assassin and so is Jeffrey Tambor ("Transparent") as Wolff's prison mentor.

Ace veterans John Lithgow ("Dexter") and Jean Smart ("Fargo") are the brother-sister corporate honchos who hire Wolff to find the discrepancies in their books.

Young actors Seth Lee and Jake Presley deliver nicely as the young Chris and his brother.

What Works: The fluid use of flashbacks help establish Wolff's inner workings and brute physical strength.

Director Gavin O'Connor ("Warrior") understands family dynamics and his characters.

What Doesn't Work: But O'Connor has trouble with momentum, for the set-up is slow and he allows the wrap-up of several big clues to go on too long.

The material can be dense. But when the pacing isn't clunky, "The Accountant" is a potent blend of intrigue and action.

You want a guy like that to do your taxes and be the neighborhood watch.

“The Accountant”

Director: Gavin O'Connor

Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jon Bernthal, John Lithgow, Jean Smart, and Jeffrey Tambor.

Rated: R for strong violence and language throughout.

Length: 2:08

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