Grégoire Colin doesn’t phone in his performance as The Killer.
THE KILLER (Cédric Anger). 91 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (November 28). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, every third movie seems to be about a hit man.
Alcoholic hit men, amnesiac hit men, hit men with Alzheimer's. All these attempts to add some depth and warmth to the cold-blooded genre make me long for just plain old killers with itchy trigger fingers.
Still, The Killer's (not to be confused with John Woo's The Killer) lonely hit man offers a take I hadn't seen before. And despite a dearth of gunplay, an abundance of which should be a prerequisite for any movie about guns for hire, I enjoyed this tiny French take that owes as much to Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï as to anything Tarantino and his spawn have done. Then again, maybe my enjoyment was due to the French subtitles and my reimagining it with Jean Reno in the lead.
Grégoire Colin plays a young contract killer in Paris. Gilbert Melki is his target, a businessman whose paranoia is well founded. He confronts his killer and strikes a deal for a couple of days' grace so he can get his affairs in order and provide for his young daughter. Then he'll go quietly.
The result is unexpected. Instead of a cat-and-mouse thriller, we get an intimate relationship drama - mercifully free of self-conscious pop-culturey dialogue - with a few minor twists en route to the inevitable ending.
While director Cédric Anger tests your patience during long moments with very little action, the strong script and the interaction between Colin and Melki, full of layers and subtlety and realism, are worth the effort.
I'd be curious to see Anger tackle another tired genre - the zombie movie.