Hidden gem in Affleck’s repertoire

Tinashe Kusema The Big & Small Screen —
NOW, I am not what one would call a “science person”; but for as long as I can remember there has always been a soft spot for the field in my heart.

Of particular interest to me is the whole “space, time continuum” theory and all its numerous facets, specially the idea that the multi-universe, or parallel universes, exist. Dumbed down for the simple mind: the notion is that the world is a flat base full of pockets, better known as universes, which vibrate at different frequencies and are invisible to the naked eye.

These multi-verses co-exist in the same space and time, and in unison to each other. I only bring it up now because one of my favourite pastimes is simply imagining what kind of a person I am in each and every one of those universes.

Believe it or not, but I think in one of these universes I am world renowned clown and in another I am world famous billionaire who spends his time gallivanting around the world. Why; well because I have got it like that.

Also, in one of these universes; I am of the theory that Ben Affleck is still rich, famous and dates some of the most beautiful women in the world. What sets Affleck, the one we all know, apart from the rest of the Ben Afflecks of the different universes is that in one of them, he should be able to act!

The key world in this assertion is “act”, for I have always been of the theory that this Ben Affleck has no talent. On this earth anyway! I get why DC Comics signed the guy for their DC multi-verse project.

They probably needed someone with the looks and appeal of their rivals Marvel, who boast of the likes of Robert Downey Jnr, Chris Evans and the esteemed Samuel L. Jackson. The only difference is that unlike Affleck; Downey, Evans and Jackson can actually act.

So imagine my surprise when I actually came across a film Affleck does not actually ruin with his robotic and somewhat lifeless performances, most of which we have been forced to tolerate for decades now.

Now, before anyone starts trying to dispute my assertion and argue about the actor’s 82 award nominations and 45 wins; Affleck only has two Oscars and that is for Best Picture (2013’s Argo) and Best Original Screenplay (1998’s Good Will Hunting). No Oscar award for actually acting.

Back to Affleck’s best performance. If you are going to see one film, this year, then let that film be “Captain America — Civil War.” It is a shear masterpiece. If you want to add another film or two, then my advice is that it should be, “The Accountant”.

As far as storytelling goes, I think “The Accountant”, may go down as one of the most underrated gems of the past decade. I am already calling it underrated, because the film’s marketing has been absolutely terrible and odds are the film will not find itself on any person or company’s shopping list this festive season.

Released back in October; “The Accountant” tells the story of Christian Wolff (Affleck), an autistic young boy who grows up to being a very intelligent and deadly accountant.

Wolff’s autism is not what makes him special but the fact that he manages to get a handle on the disease, largely due to shear will and a mental military father who trained him in martial arts and weapon use as means of preparing him for the harsh reality of the cruel world.

Wolff grows up to being an accountant, who deals with shady business people and enterprises. When a robotics company employee, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), detects discrepancies in her company’s financials, Wolff gets roped in to get down to the bottom of who is stealing the money.

Unfortunately, Wolff and Cummings’ discovery put the latter at the cross hairs of whoever is responsible and soon a great cover up ensues as the people start dying.

I found watching “The Accountant”, akin to trying to eat a hot pie on a full stomach. It looks like a cumbersome endeavour, what with having to watch another Ben Affleck film again this year, but once done I was totally full and even more satisfied. For once, Affleck’s somewhat robotic performance was actually ideal.

As the autistic but deadly Wolff, Affleck does not miss a beat as his lifeless expressions and non-selling were in tune to the requirements of the role. The action sequences are both breath-taking and believable, and for that I say kudos to the choreography department and stunt men and women.

Still on performances; Affleck has the perfect set of co-stars, in J. K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick and Bernthal. More on that later. Story telling is arguably one of most underrated movie device in cinema; something, it appears, writer Bill Dubuque appears to be well-aware of and sought to rectify.

What Dubuque puts together is a work of art. The story devices; namely excellent dialogue and flashbacks, all serve a purpose. While Wolff and Cummings’ story is the main driving force of the film, we have many sub-plots that play off each other and all serve a purpose.

Firstly, through flashbacks, we learn all about Wolff’s sad and tragic past, specifically his illness, relationship with his father and brother. His illness goes a long way in revealing why he is the way he is.

The relationship with his father and brother give little hints into the big, big reveal at the end. We also have the King story arc.

Raymond King (Simmons) is the director at the Treasury Department and has been hunting down Wolff for many years, or so it may seem. He enlists, or to say it correctly blackmails, data analyst Marybeth Medina to help him track down Wolff whom he calls, “The Accountant”.

Without revealing too much, let me just say every dialogue, plot thread and flashback — all lead to the third act full of big reveals and twists. The performances of Simmons and in particular Bernthal are quite brilliant.

Although a henchmen, for the most part of the movie, Bernathal’s Braxton plays the role of villain quite brilliantly. His mannerisms, monologues and cockiness are what sets the film apart from most of 2016’s so called protagonists.

I am looking at you Jared Leto. Simmons is, well Simmons; I mean the guy can do no wrong. The only downside to this film is that they did not give Kendrick a lot of things except to appear awkward, bond with Affleck’s Wolff character and play the whole clichéd “damsel in distress” tidbit.

She is a breath of fresh air in every film she appears in and, while this movie is still good, giving her character a bit more substance could only have improved the film that much more.

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