Suspense and problem-solving mixed with a dash of hopeless romance and a pinch of dysfunctional family history are the staples that sustain The Accountant, yet it’s the strength of the main character that makes us grade this cinematic achievement with approval. Far from sad Batman or cocky Daredevil, this Ben Affleck hero has something that’s more real: a spot on the autism spectrum. As Christian Wolff, we see Handsome Ben in another light, and through him, we get a brighter spot on men and women diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Nothing like Rainman’s Raymond or Jerry Espenson from TV’s Boston Legal, our heretofore examples in entertainment, the Wolff character is complex and worthy of awe. He does not count toothpicks on the ground, but is a master of ledger books who gets recruited by mobsters, cartel kingpins and corporate overlords. The flashbacks to his childhood reveal both a well-meaning and sort of sadistic dad and a groundbreaking (perhaps fictionally effective) treatment approach that ostensibly helped him figure out how to overcome the condition’s characteristic symptoms such as difficulty or inability to express emotions or read social cues from others; repetitive, obsessive compulsion and a need for explicit order. While Affleck can typically rely on turning on the charm, here he’s got to suppress the dimpled, sly grin for an even thinner smile that he hardly ever gets to break out. The flat affect took some work, and it makes for some laugh-worthy moments among otherwise serious scenes. Sure, Affleck has to shoot a couple dudes in the head, but that’s just par for the action genre course. Rounding out the cast in her seemingly endless stream of supporting roles is Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect), who this time plays another accountant who breaks through to her fellow math geek just in time to get sucked into an unfolding drama. A too-serious performance by Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Star Trek Into Darkness), a Treasury agent tasked with uncovering Wolff’s identity, nonetheless is essential for the plot tension. Wait and see if you can figure it out, too.
Violet Crown, Regal,