Ben Affleck crunches the numbers in his new film 'The Accountant,' but comes up a little short with critics. (Photo: Warner Brothers)

Ben Affleck crunches the numbers in his new film ‘The Accountant,’ but comes up a little short with critics. (Photo: Warner Brothers)

Ben Affleck’s “The Accountant,” is a taut thriller, with an excellent cast that starts out in superb fashion (almost like “LA Confidential”), then suffers about an hour of poor, narrative mishmash, before rebounding for a stellar climax.

Christian “Chris” Wolff (Affleck), a small town certified public accountant, has a high functioning form of autism that gives him an uncanny ability to juggle numbers.

He’s a socially-awkward math savant with an obsessive-compulsive disorder who likes to keep things neat.

Except his own life is anything but. He doubles at night as a paid assassin and money man behind complex international criminal organizations.

His foil is Ray King (J. K. Simmons), the beleaguered head of the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, who is haunted by an early career stumble.

He gets caught by an assailant who puts a gun to his head. He begs for his life and is suddenly set free.

“I think about all my lucky breaks, after they happen,” he muses.

Years later, with retirement looming, he zeros in on the lone assailant who let him go and puts together scant clues that lead to an accountant, of sorts, for bad guys.


Meanwhile, Wolff takes takes what he thinks is a legitimate job. Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), a young accounting clerk hires Wolff to unravel a suspected fraud at the robotics company where she works.

It’s headed by a psychopathic business mogul, Lamar Black (John Lithgow), who is about to take his company public and can’t afford any scandals.

Wolff fingers a suspect. But rather than go public with the finding, Black decides to silence both Wolff and Cummings. But Black doesn’t know who he’s messing with, and neither does Cummings until it’s almost too late.

There’s plenty of backstory on Affleck’s character. His military father felt the best way to deal with his son’s illness was discipline, which gives Wolff a sort of sadomasochistic, dual personality.

Bill Dubuque’s screenplay is handled capably enough by Gavin O’connor. The film moves gracefully, weaving no less than four different storylines together.

O’Connor has a close friend who has an autistic child, which makes him unusually sensitive to the film’s trickiest ingredient.

Instead of presenting Affleck’s Wolff (one of his many aliases) as some kind of freak, he portrays him as someone special, blessed with an ability that makes him almost superhuman.

There is a bit of a superhero quality about Affleck’s character. Why not a superhero accountant?

In any event, the actor looks fabulous on screen. Whether Jack Ryan or Batman, he’s a perfect fit, in tip-top shape and at the top of his game.

Also along for the ride are Jeffrey Tambor and Jean Smart.

The film opens Friday, Oct. 14.

It’s expected to gross $20 million to $25 million from 3,332 theaters opening weekend; the studio is projecting a conservative $15 million opening, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The picture scored a 43 percent rating on rottentomatoes, based on 42 reviews, and a 51 rating, based on 23 reviews at Metacritic.

Check out the trailer.

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