Alex, a hit man, tries to get out of the family business, but his father won't let him do so. While seeking the help of a therapist, he meets a sexually charged 23-year-old woman with whom he falls in love.
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Alex, a sad-eyed mournful man, goes into psychotherapy: he discloses he's a hit man. He also tells the doctor, after a few sessions, that he's attracted to a young woman he's met in the waiting room. She's Sarah, 23, quick, edgy, and perhaps attracted to him as well. But he's married, the dutiful father of a young precocious boy, so Sarah brushes him off. In flashbacks we see him get his start as a killer, at his father's prompting: it's the family business. Dad gives Alex his next assignment: to kill the therapist. Alex keeps returning to Sarah, calling her, stopping by her apartment, as he decides what to do about the hit, his father, his marriage, and his malaise. Written by
[Coaching Alex on his first hit]
Okay, let's go. Now, you get over there and do your job. We've got a reputation to protect. Come on. Remember what I told you: keep it fast and simple. Don't meet his eyes. Just walk up, do your job, and walk away. I'll be right here waiting for you. Go on. You can do it.
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This film has so many good things about it that watching it was frustrating for me, since I could never swallow the story line.
William H. Macy plays Alex, a hit man who is carrying on the family business under pressure from his father. The first obstacle for me was accepting the mild-mannered Macy as a hit man. I can accept the fact that there are hit men living in apparently normal circumstances and keeping their business a secret, I just did not accept Macy in the role. As the father I suppose Donald Sutherland portrays a person who is amoral enough to be a hit man, but there again there was some hardness lacking. Think of the hit men in "The Godfather" and compare.
The next obstacle was believing in the relationship that developed between the young, beautiful and lively Sarah (Neve Campbell) and the confused, middle-aged and withdrawn Alex? What was there about Alex that would attract Sarah, who was shown as predominately lesbian? I didn't see it.
The scenes with Alex and his six year old son Sammy were touching and were the only scenes where Alex seemed relaxed and engaged. But the kid spoke in a manner way beyond his years and clearly was just reciting written dialog.
Alex has kept his death-dealing profession a secret from his wife. Supposedly he made a living by running a mail-order business selling lawn ornaments, kitchen gadgets, sexual aids and such. Does his wife really think that he is supporting the family with that kind of business? She would certainly have to be involved in such a business to make a go of it, and consequently she would know about the finances and see that things did not add up.
The dialog tended toward the affected. For example the first lines in the movie have Alex saying to himself, "Do you ever get the feeling that you're dead? Like some dog lying on the street that's been hit by a car and left there to rot." Does anyone actually talk to himself like that?
The music tries to add an element of suspense and threat but I felt it was too intrusive.
Having said all of that, the beautiful photography saved this movie for me. The settings are artistically composed and the lighting impressive. And the actors are all in good form. It's too bad that all of this talent was not put to better use.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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