Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
USA, 2011. CBS Films, Millennium Films, Chartoff-Winkler Productions, Nu Image Entertainment GmbH, Scared Productions. Story by Lewis John Carlino, Screenplay by Richard Wenk, Lewis John Carlino. Cinematography by Eric Schmidt. Produced by Rene Besson, William Chartoff, David Winkler. Music by Mark Isham. Production Design by Richard Lassalle. Costume Design by Christopher Lawrence. Film Editing by T.G. Herrington, Todd E. Miller.
Try not to be shocked, but Jason Statham is a good guy on the bad side of the law, he has been wronged and he won’t rest until he makes things right. Do we even need the details at this point? Well, in case you do, this time he’s an assassin for hire who specializes in slick kills that leave no trail: you might think that a corrupt politician killed himself but it was actually Statham in a wet suit in the pool who faked the man’s drowning. He’s so good at the amoral requirements of his job that when he is assigned to take out his friend and mentor (Donald Sutherland cashing a well deserved cheque), he does the deed, and that’s where it gets complicated (except not really). Sutherland’s son, played by Ben Foster, comes to Statham asking for help with revenge: he doesn’t know who killed his dad but he wants our hero to teach him the ropes of the job in order to eventually kill whoever is responsible. A conundrum no doubt, as Statham now has to bring an apprentice along on his jobs which go from skilled to sloppy and bring on the attention of the man in charge of them all (Tony Goldwyn, asleep). The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are all here: the plot need not be complicated so long as it hits its marks, we have the teacher-student relationship so popular in non-sexual bromances, and there are enough times that their best laid plans go awry to facilitate some pretty awesome violence. What’s missing is the spirit of the thing, director Simon West seems miserable having to make his way through every cliche in the book and can’t be bothered to have any fun with it, never for a second is there any tension in the central relationship and considering that Statham is, in theory, getting Foster’s abilities up to snuff in order to get himself killed, there should be. Foster comes off as he always does, charismatic and talented but also a suburban child actor overdoing his scruffy face and bloodshot eyes to appear tough, but he’s clearly cashing his own paycheque while waiting for better indies like Leave No Trace to come along, and given that he is working with an uninterested director and a lead actor comfortable with phoning in his usual turtleneck swagger, who can blame him.