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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Great performance by Whittaker

Author: debra-8 ( from Newark, OH
12 October 2000

This is an excellent movie, Whittaker is so underrated. They rave about the same actors, being so gifted. Whittaker is so powerful, soft spoken, not with mumbling so many actors do. I enjoyed this movie very much. It was very human and touching.

Fenn was so good, in a role that could have been wasted on other beautiful actresses.

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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

First rate, but vastly underrated, psychological thriller in the "Sleuth" genre.

Author: chanvat from North Carolina
27 December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Forrest Whittaker is superb in this taut thriller, in which he plays a burned-out hit man who is planning his last job. The job, however, is a dirty one even by his standards: he is ordered to murder the wife of a shady businessman and the wife's baby (whom, claims the businessman, is not his child, and a crack baby to boot). Sherilyn Fenn plays the wife masterfully, exhibiting a wide range of emotion from fear to desperation to joy to confusion, all within just a few minutes on camera. James Belushi plays a cynical police detective, while Sharon Stone (in her first post-"Basic Instinct" role) has a small role as Sherilyn's kooky sister, aptly named "Kiki". Instead of taking out Sherilyn and her baby, Whittaker bonds with her and, eventually, turns the tables on her s.o.b. husband.

The movie was filmed in Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Ohio, and Sharon, PA, where the producer's studio was located at the time (1991). These industrial locales add a dark mood to this even darker drama, one that is vastly underrated.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

suprisingly good movie

Author: goya-4 from PA USA
8 April 2001

Dorest Whitaker stars as a hitman hired by a commodities trader who asks him to murder his wife who he says is a drug addict who gave birth to an addicted baby who isnt his... Whitaker, doing one final job, goes but has his doubts of the authenticity of the husband and breaking his professional vow to himself, begins talking with the woman (Sherilyn Fenn in one of her best roles) A highly dramatic film that runs like a theater drama. Very Well done and underappreciated On a scale of one to ten.. 7

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Forest Whitaker's first really stand out role

Author: chuckewe from United States
3 February 2007

I saw this movie well after it was out, caught it about 10 minutes after is started, and was doing something else at the time the TV was on. After just a few moments, I was spell bound (I love Ms. Fenn) but she was not the one who grabbed my attention. It was this soft spoken hit man truly agonizing with the situation.

When it was on again, (you know Showtime runs the same movie multiple times a month) even though I knew the ending, (I will not spoil it) I watched it again, beginning to end. I was captivated by Forest's portrayal.

I referenced this movie to someone, and they reminded me he was in the Crying Game. I'd not made the connection.

I was told to see Ghost Dog, which I enjoyed even more.

Having just got back from seeing The Last King Of Scotland, and having watched the season he was on The Shield, I have to say Forest has turned into one of the finest actors of our time. I hope he wins his Oscar this year.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Jain's Addiction

Author: Steve Skafte from Nova Scotia, Canada
27 August 2011

"Diary of a Hit-man" is something more than the average entry into the neo-noir genre of many such films produced in the 80s/90s. They usually hold a similar trashy appeal, more style than substance, and not too much in the way of quality performances. Forest Whitaker helps to make this an exception from the mold. Here, playing a variant of his later role in "Ghost Dog", he lets you into the mind of a conflicted, controlling, somewhat neurotic hit-man.

This film was adapted from a play by Kenneth Pressman, and the middle act pays testament to that. A series of scenes in a small apartment capture a real depth of emotion, both from Whitaker and his target (played by Sherilyn Fenn). It seems almost claustrophobic, but there's a power to it. Roy London doesn't show a lot of experience in his direction, but he does express a good deal of humanity. This is a grounded film, personal. There's no cheap exploitation feel, nor is there any sense of big budget Hollywood.

The acting is the real reason to watch "Diary of a Hit-man". Even the small roles have something to offer. I particularly liked the two doctors, one a psychiatrist (John Bedford Lloyd), the other an optometrist (Ken Lerner). James Belushi and Sharon Stone show up briefly, but aren't given a whole lot to do. This isn't an overly complicated or particularly far-reaching film, but the narration lets you under its skin, and there's no terrible overacting or delusions of grandeur. The title might seem cheap, but "Diary of a Hit-man" has a lot more to offer.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

80's had good movies!

Author: jfff7773 from United States
24 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Good 80's flik-a classic actors flik before conglomerate studios, w/ original music + real artists on soundtrack. 1 of the last b4 cookie-cutter movies became the norm and original stories/good actors, real film-making, still got promo. Whitaker and Fenn are excellent. Her best work and his emergence as Oscar winner. A shame that 2days flix need a kid starring to get a greenlight. I hate to say it, but I miss the 'studio system'- professional writers,directors,crew,timelines,productions, from top to bottom. Actors were labor like everybody else. Most of them were from stage or were multi-faceted entertainers. Where are modern Elvis, Sammy Davis, T. Curtis, L. Ball, Gleason, M.Rooney, D.Kaye, G.Kelly, Bogart,Cagney, etc.?

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

An Intense and Dramatic Film!

Author: K-Ci from Toronto, Canada
11 July 1999

Diary of Hit Man is an insightful movie that goes into the mine of a hit man. This film is very emotional and suspenseful. The acting is great and very real. Forest Whitaker and Sherilyn Fenn gave great performances. This film is also unpredictable, I found it really exciting to watch. The ending is a good one, because it leaves you wondering, what will happen to the characters? Overall, this is a very well done movie!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Hit and the Miss...

Author: JoeytheBrit from
4 November 2011

This one isn't what I was expecting at all. Its title conjures up images of some lurid Norman Saunders pulp cover; you know the kind of thing - buxom, provocatively dressed women draped over some weathered guy with a cigarette in the corner of his mouth and a gun in his hand. Instead we get cuddly Forest Whitaker having trouble coming to terms with who he is and what he does, and having his psychological frailty challenged by his final hit – a cute, slightly pathetic young woman (Sherilyn Fenn) who is supposed to be the crack addict mother of an addict baby (who is also on his kill list), but who turns out to be, as I said earlier, just cute and slightly pathetic.

I don't really like movies like this, even though I can see it's reasonably well made, and very well acted by Whitaker and Fenn. It's the dialogue that grates; the way the writer alters the way real people talk so that he can deliver whatever it is he wants to say. It's not a reflection of real life – in fact it's not even an approximation, and so this kind of thing always comes across as pretentious to me. Perhaps it's me. Perhaps my tastes just aren't highbrow enough…

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

An exceptional thriller.

Author: johnnymacbest from United States
17 March 2010

After seeing this movie on TV several years ago, I picked this up for cheap on Amazon. Turns out it was a really good movie but it is Forest Whitaker who steals the show as the hit-man out to kill the wife of a client who knows her husband is up to no good. Despite the movie's dark tone, there's a surprising amount of dark humor, especially Sharon Stone, who plays her kooky, drugged out sister and her lines had me laughing out loud in one of the most tense and chill-inducing scenes of the movie. An exceptional thriller with strong performances, a solid storyline, and edge of your seat moments make "Diary of a Hit-man" one little gem of a movie.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The play was bad or the adaptation was bad

Author: Quebec_Dragon from Canada
30 November 2014

I have trouble believing this movie has so many good user reviews here, because for me it was rather poor. I understand that it's from a play, "Insider's Price", and its origins show. I usually like Forest Whitaker, the hit-man, but I think he was badly directed here. He overacts, a lot, and his narration was atrocious as in exaggerated and almost ludicrous. It wasn't even a real diary, it was a phone conversation and as such it worked even less. I get our hit-man isn't the sharpest tool in the block but the writing seemed weak with some lousy lines. The target, Sherilyn Fenn's, although looking fine, was arguably worse acting-wise, because her reactions often weren't believable or seemed emotionally fake. You see James Belushi and Sharon Stone in the credits, but they only have 5-minute cameos. Belushi's part could have easily been cut. Sharon Stone's was a bit more interesting but any actress could have done it.

The main part of the film was a confrontation between the hit-man and the target in her apartment. From the way it was shot, the confined space and the acting, it really felt theatrical there but not in a good way. I suppose some scenes would have elicited laughter in front of a audience (such as the pulling back and forth of the curtains or the cake scene), but here, they seemed out of place. I was more often puzzled by reactions than gripped by tension as to her fate and that of the baby. Also, very little action here, it was all very talkative. This film seemed very forgettable fare to me.

Rating: 3 out of 10 (poor)

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