Wow! Rarely have I seen a film show events this sensational while at the same time feeling this realistic. What would it be like to be a hit-man? Apparently, not very fun. This movie shows the development of Sean Crawley from a directionless nobody to an unfeeling killer, and boy, is that metamorphosis painful. Young Sean Crawley is working as a painter when he meets Wayne Duke, a gregarious "cowboy electrician" (George Wendt, in "I am not Norm" mode) who introduces him to a construction mogul (some Baldwin, not Stephen or Alec, thank god) who offers Sean the opportunity to make some extra cash following a city accountant (the guy from Office Space who was dating the chick from Friends). Things turn dark when the Baldwin offers Sean some real money if he offs the guy. Sean accepts, executes the murder, which is one of the most gut wrenching scenes I have ever seen. You REALLY feel the confusion, apprehension, pain and insanity of killing an innocent stranger (I assume). You also get to see Sean's reaction after the fact, he looks like a young girl who just turned her first trick (once again, I assume. J/K, pimpin ain't easy). Sean tries to get his money afterwards, but Baldwin backs out, and sends Wendt to make sure that Sean makes himself scarce. Sean tries to blackmail Baldwin, and Baldwin's response is dumb enough to seem like a real hoods mind at work. He decides to beat Sean around the head with a golf club until Sean's a vegetable, or at least forgets everything that happens. The next several minutes involve Sean in a shed alternately delirious and hallucinating and getting uglier. This sequence is most disturbing for the resignation of the parties involved. The hoods know their going to beat Sean retarded, and Sean knows he's powerless to do anything, to the point where he even wraps the piece of foam that the hoods have been using to prevent marks and fatal bleeding around his own head. Then Sean snaps. He dispatches Wendt in a very efficient manner, and is rescued by a friend, who, learning more about what is actually going on, ditches Sean. Sean makes his way to a mission where the wife of the accountant he killed works (Kari Wurher, she is nice). She nurses the disfigured him back to health, and even lets him stay at her house (yes, rather awkward) when he can no longer stay at the shelter. A romance eventually blooms, but is short lived, as she soon finds out Sean's background. He kills her (accidentally?), and then goes and kills the bad guys at the ranch where his torture took place. This last scene shows the final stage in Seans metamorphosis, and it is chilling. He kills the thugs in a heartless, inevitable manner. He is fulfilling his purpose, nothing more, nothing less. The existential themes he discusses in this scene are nihlistic and simplistic, but the logic does hold up, unfortunately. Overall, a well made thriller that leaves you feeling uneasy. Sean transforms so naturally. He still has the same personality on the surface that he displayed at the beginning of the film, charming and affable, but what he is capable of is so grisly and remorseless that he becomes a truly terrifying figure. The other characters in the film serve to enable that transformation, and they do so believably. This film is a great character study, and the actor portraying Sean does a great job at seeming like an everyman, so much so that it allows you to examine the films themes on a personal level. This is a thought provoking film, which I would highly recommend. Not for the squeamish, though.
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