“Fires nothing but blanks.”
The first spectacular misfire of 2016, I was hoping for much more, than a story that could only be claimed to make any sense if it was entirely the ravings of a mentally-deranged idiot. Beatle (Hicks) is a tow-truck driver/assassin – yes, that’s what it says on her business cards – who rescues Athena (Carradine) from her abusive ex-boyfriend, Kyle (Mendelsohn). In revenge, he sets deranged psychopath Bruce (Morgan) on their trail, and he is prepared to stop at nothing to bring them back to his boss. Meanwhile, Athena hires Beatle to kill her, but they have to hang out until the change in Athena’s life-insurance policy, making Beatle the beneficiary, is officially completed. Except, is Beatle actually a killer at all? For her therapist seems convinced otherwise. The entire saga unfolds in flashback, as Beatle is being interrogated by a detective, who has found the videotape of Beatle’s infomercial for her hitwoman business. Certainly sounds like an unusual set-up, and potentially interesting, right?
Wrong. It’s an overly talky and thoroughly unconvincing slab of pretentious nonsense, which is nowhere near as smart as it thinks, and completely fails to provide the “Nonstop action!” proclaimed on the cover. Both Beatle (seriously, what kind of name is that?) and Athena are the kind of characters you would actively seek to avoid if you met either of them in real life, and the film does nothing to make spending 75 minutes in their company any more attractive. Perhaps it might have worked, if the story had done more with the question of whether or not Beatle is an assassin only in her own mind, following the American Psycho approach. That would, at least, have tied in with the final twist, which basically screws up everything you’ve endured to that point, and throws it out the window. Thanks a bunch, for wasting the audience’s time, Ms. Robinson.
There’s a subplot involving Beatle and a stripper, which seems present only to provide some gratuitous lesbian titillation for undemanding male viewers, and – speaking as the apparent target audience – doesn’t even work on that level. Instead, you’re left to cope with performances which range from the passable (Morgan does his best, in limited screen time) through the gratuitously excessive (Tony Shalhoub turns up as a DMV employee, for no reason) to the spectacularly incompetent (I’ll spare the name of the “actor” “playing” the “detective” – all three sets of quotes used advisedly). Add dialogue which, I can only presume, must have sounded an awful lot better in writer-director Robinson’s head than it plays on screen, and you’ve got something that fizzles an enormous amount more than it sizzles. As the first of our “coming in 2016” films to be reviewed, it feels more like a New Year’s Day hangover than any kind of shiny, positive resolution.
Dir: Donna Robinson
Star: Ever Carradine, Michele Hicks, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Ben Mendelsohn