The last major movie to present a puzzle as confounding and enjoying to experience as the one(s) in “The Accountant” was Christopher Nolan’s “Memento,” which played out backward in the script and on the screen, providing answers that only made sense when all of the questions finally appeared.

The puzzles and twists in “The Accountant” are presented in a more conventional manner, but the presentation is still startling and captivating, freely incorporating long-ago flashbacks that eventually reveal why certain characters behave as they do in the present.

Two flashbacks kick off the film, one involving a trail of dead bodies and a hold-your-breath unnerving atmosphere, while the other peeks into a difficult family situation in which desperate parents are trying to get help for their severely autistic son – who might also be some kind of savant seeing as he’s adept as putting together jigsaw puzzles with all of the pieces upside down.

But writer Bill Dubuque and director (“The Judge”) and director Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior”) quickly avert audience attention by jumping to situations in the present: an anxious couple discusses money problems with their accountant Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck), who expertly provides them with little-known tax loopholes, but does so with no expression on his face; and Treasury Department Director Raymond King (J.K. Simmons) interviews hopeful recruit Marybeth Median (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who is being given a chance to prove herself even though she’s been hiding a problematic past. Director King wants her to assist him in finding the identity of an unknown, unnamed accountant who’s been uncooking the books of shady, dangerous organizations around the world.

With the revelation that Christopher lives a quiet, ordered, OCD-addled life at home, appearing to have no happiness and no connectivity to people except at his strip mall office, but is an amazing shot at the rifle range, the filmmakers set their trap for viewers who will soon have a lot more coming at them, without explanation.

More flashbacks suggest that the troubled young boy has grown up to be Christopher, now a high-functioning autistic man who meditates, listens to both soothing classical and head-pounding hard rock, keeps a lot of money, in a variety of currencies, neatly separated in a drawer, and has a reputation of being “nothing short of supernatural” in helping companies straighten out problems with their books.

Could some of these companies be of the shady, dangerous variety? You bet, and they all come to him over the phone as assignments from the voice of a woman who is unseen and unnamed. But a new assignment is aboveboard: finding a missing chunk of money at a corporation run by Lamar Black (John Lithgow), where eager young assistant and numbers wiz Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) has noticed a large discrepancy.

The story strands never stop. Neither does it seem that they’ll ever fit together. Somber Christopher, a man with no social skills, finds satisfaction in tackling impossible numbers problems (a brilliantly conceived set piece has him scrawling sequences all over an office’s glass walls); chatterbox Dana needs someone to talk to; Marybeth spends her time, in worried close-up, at her computer screen, trying to solve the problem she’s been given; Director King has buried secrets that don’t want to stay down; and there’s a hitman named Braxton (Jon Bernthal) on many people’s trails and is nothing short of lethal.

There are so many stories flowing through this film on so many different levels, and every character gets a turn to reveal personal secrets, most of which are of similar dimensions to that of Director King’s. This is one extremely involved movie, and the clever script and taut, tight direction are perfect in getting everything across. Things get very violent, but never gory, then more and bigger, deeper secrets come out. It all turns out to have a great ending, then a great couple of endings, then a few great endings.

— Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.

“The Accountant”
Written by Bill Dubuque; directed by Gavin O’Connor
With Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, J.K. Simmons, John Lithgow, Jon Bernthal
Rated R