Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Accountant

I've been on a movie watching spree this week. This time I've been watching on pay-per-view instead of venturing to the movie theater.

My first film to see in the comfort of my own home was The Accountant starring Ben Affleck. This one is a taut suspense film both in learning his background and in law enforcement's pursuit of this well shadowed assassin with deadly fame.

Affleck plays Christian, a man with a type of Autism which allows him to function in society. Labelled a math savant, he becomes an accountant as he is excellent with numbers.

The film begins with scenes in his childhood home. Christian is difficult to handle. It looks like the mid to late 1950s. His mother insists he needs help and they go to a rural institute in New Hampshire seeking care for him. The creator of the facility talks to the mother, while her husband, a military officer, stands with his arms folded tightly in front and a stoic expression on his face.

The doctor offers to help Christian to which the mother expresses her gratitude. But she is countermanded by her overbearing husband. He doesn't think Christian needs any help.  He needs to be exposed to the real world so he can function and get out of this phase of his life. The husband thinks his wife is just silly and indulgent. Later in the film, she leaves the family one day, just walks out, leaving her husband to handle Christian's emotional outburst. Her younger son watches her leave as he gives her the one finger salute looking out the window at her.

Thus Christian and his little brother are left in the hands of their uncaring father. The boys are trained in the martial arts with their father directing them in picking fights with older boys until they are proficient in hand-to-hand combat. Then they are trained in all manner of weaponry.

As an adult, Christian is an accountant with a small practice out of a rural strip mall office. He is an excellent accountant with his ability with numbers. However, he is a much better covert assassin with his expertise in weaponry and lack of compassion. Hired by some very dangerous people to do their dirty work with no slips, he has become very wealthy and picks his jobs as he pleases.

He is always careful to set up a new alias and personal info for each job. But the head Treasury agent is on his trail. Played by the venerable J.K. Simmons, who seems to be in almost every film I see these days, he is close to discovering the truth about Christian. So he brings in a subordinate agent, a woman, to finish the job under his supervision.

In the meantime, Christian has met a young woman on one of his cover jobs, temping for a company with problems with their finances. He clicks on to the woman, played by Anna Kendrick. They have some life experiences in common. He saves her when rivals attack.

That's as far as I'll go. I don't want to spoil the film for you.

Affleck is excellent as Christian, with just enough humanity to keep him from seeming a robotic monster.

Simmons does his usual job as the retiring director of the Treasury Department.

Anna Kendrick, who I have only seen in lightweight comedies, was a surprise in the depth of her character portrayal.

This is a tense, solemn film, with a bit of a hopeful revelation at the end. It was refreshing to see Affleck play something other than his villainous portrayals in recent films.

In places this is an exciting film when the battles are being waged. For that's what Christian is, a warrior equipped with gifts beyond the norm.

Until next time...

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