Review: 'The Virtuoso' a satisfactory but uninspired hitman thriller
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Pulpy, junk-food cinema where the brain doesn’t have to process much information, but the mindless narrative is somewhat enjoyable are hard to come by, though Nick Stagliano’s hitman escapade “The Virtuoso” wears it like a badge of honor. This efficient and not always predictable venture is about a ruthless assassin with a conscience about the work he does. Headlined by a somber ‘I’m too cool for school' Anson Mount, who narrates the action as it happens, “The Virtuoso” comes stacked with a respectable supporting cast in a film you’ll probably forget as soon as the credits roll.
Stagliano, clearly utilizing his admiration for noir cinema, finds The Virtuoso (Mount) on the other end of a terrible mistake. His last job yielded too much collateral damage, signaling the once precise killer is now starting to grow problematic. His shadowy mentor – played by Anthony Hopkins – isn’t too pleased and sends him to Any Small Town, USA to track a target: White Rivers. Before putting the silencer on his handgun, he must first locate the target, which involves scoping out the local diner where plenty of wacky characters inhabit and the cute waitress (Abbie Cornish) locks eyes with him. Cornish makes the most of her ponderous role, but its two-time Oscar winner Hopkins (he can spin any meaningless character into a force of nature) playing the cynic hitman coordinator who salvages a shoddy third act twist.
Speaking of the cast, the supporting players Staglinao’s enlists is quite remarkable, but it’s a shame they aren’t given more to accomplish. Eddie Marsan, Richard Brake and David Morse flaunt their chops as lowly individuals who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but The Virtuoso is convinced, like a game of whodunit, that one of them is guilty. These commendable performers aren’t entirely wasted, but the predestined conclusion is all too predictable once the killer comes sniffing around and all nuance goes out the window. Then again, I don’t think anyone was expecting a film about contract killers to strive for emotional integrity.
Give Stagliano credit for taking a subtle approach to the violence and fleshing out its main character. The film doesn’t evolve to “John Wick” levels of mayhem, but considering the film looked iffy from the outset, that it manages to tell a coherent story with dialogues on trauma and relationships proves we shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover. Or maybe we just got lucky.
THE VIRTUOSO debuts on Digital, Demand
and Limited Theatrical Release, Friday, April 30th