Jon Bernthal joins Ben Affleck in enhanced role for newly announced ‘The Accountant 2’


Chuck Zlotnick

Warner Brothers Pictures

Dan Buffa, Special to the Jewish Light

Back in the summer of 2016, a modestly budgeted thriller called “The Accountant” was released in theaters.

Directed by Gavin O’Connor (“Miracle,” “Warrior”) and starring Ben Affleck as an autism-afflicted financial wizard who moonlights as an assassin, the film was the first in the genre of action thrillers to give an honest focus to autism and its daily-and lifelong-rigors.

Affleck was terrific in the lead, going the understated yet noble route playing a guy who was trained to hurt and kill from a young age by his soldier father, all the while struggling with the disorder.

The film co-starred the ever-valuable Jewish actor, Jon Bernthal, as a rival gunman named Braxton placed on a collision course with Affleck’s Christian Wolff. “The Accountant” was a real nice hit at the box office and with critics, being celebrated as a cerebral thriller that didn’t shy away from unexpected humor–like when Christian saves an older couple from a couple hired thugs and just nonchalantly waves to them after disposing of the threat. It was different, yet familiar in its intensity and scope. Anna Kendrick and John Lithgow sure don’t hurt a film either.

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*Warning, spoilers below

This week, after many years of maybes and possibilities, “The Accountant 2” has finally been given the go-ahead. The sequel will feature more of Bernthal’s character, who survived the film and was part of a huge twist near its end –where it was revealed that he was the long-lost brother of Christian and not just a nemesis.

The sequel would line Affleck and Bernthal up as co-leads of some sort, according to O’Connor. The director, who will return to helm the sequel, noted that the idea of having more Bernthal, a gifted and versatile performer, helped get the film across the finish line. Oh, and there’s a good possibility of a third film, which would form the comfy-looking trilogy.

“Yeah yeah, I’ve always wanted to do three because what, the second one’s going to be more with–integrating his brother into the story,” O’Connor told the ReelBlend podcast. “So there’ll be more screen time for Bernthal in the second one. And then the third movie going to be, I call it, ‘Rain Man on steroids.’ The third movie is going to be the two brothers, this odd couple. The third one is going to be a buddy picture.”

I don’t know about you, but O’Connor had me at “Rain Man on steroids.” As long as the sequel, and possible third film, stick to the format of the original, everything will be gravy. Screenwriter Bill Dubuque needs to keep the story tight and maintain a focus on autism and its effect on a life. Along with perfectly calibrated direction and taut work from the cast, “The Accountant 2” should be another fine delight with something extra. More Affleck and Bernthal only enhances the good times.

One minus from all of this, which the director also told ReelBlend, is that this sequel announcement all but denies “The Way Back,” my favorite film from last year and one that should have scored Affleck an Oscar nomination, won’t be getting a sequel. And that’s fine because that story seemed powerfully sealed at the end. If either film had commercial and critical viability for a continuation, it’s “The Accountant.”

O’Connor’s basketball drama is brilliant on its own but if any film from the past five years needed a sequel, it’s the adventures of Christian Wolff, the deadly accountant with autism who cares about good people, even if he can’t really connect with them.