Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Hit: Grade C

The Hit (1984)
John Hurt, Terence Stamp, Tim Roth; Director Stephen Frears.

An English gangster (Stamp) turns state’s evidence against the gang then goes on the lam in southern Spain. Eight years later, inevitably, a couple of henchmen (Hurt and Roth) come for him. They need to transport him to Paris, where he will be killed, so the rest of the movie is a long road trip north, through the Pyrenees, into France. The trio acquires a young Spanish woman to act out stereotypical scenes. There are various incidents along the way such as bar fights, car breakdowns, temper tantrums, and so forth, as the characters get to know each other and we get to know them, during their journey. The henchmen are perfect stereotypes, Hurt with his implacable face and steely gaze, Roth the labile psychopath. Stamp plays a sort of otherworldly existentialist who accepts his destiny with equanimity, talks about life and death in philosophical terms, with humor, and does not try to escape. All three of those performances are enjoyable, even if the characters are superficial, because the story is delightfully oddball. This is a recent Criterion Collection re-issue with the film all cleaned up, colors bright, sound clear. Unfortunately there is only one DVD extra, a very boring television interview with Stamp.

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