Sony // 2011 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // June 2nd, 2011
Who's on your list?
Cuba Gooding Jr. may have been absent from the big screen lately, but the actor's been quite busy showing up in a bunch of mediocre direct-to-DVD releases not many people out there really care about. One of those films is William Kaufman's new action thriller The Hit List, in which Gooding Jr. (American Gangster) plays a pretty cranky hit man trying to go out with a bang before his time is up. Let's find out if this thing is any good.
Although Gooding Jr. is certainly the most interesting guy to watch in The Hit List, the lead character is Allan Campbell (Cole Hauser, Chase), a disgruntled businessman whose life takes a turn for the worse when he fails to get the promotion he wanted and later discovers his wife is cheating on him with his best friend. Allan heads to a bar to drink away his misery, and that's where he runs into Jonas (Gooding).
While the two hit it off pretty easily, things get a little awkward when Jonas reveals he's a professional killer. To prove he's the real deal, he even offers to take out five people for Allan. Thinking Jonas is full of it, Allan plays along by giving him a list of five folks he's really pissed at. Surely enough, the first person from the list ends up dead the following morning, and Allan quickly finds himself in a race to stop Jonas from finishing what he started.
Doesn't this sound like a cool concept? Sadly enough, The Hit List fails to take this rather compelling idea and turn it into a memorable experience. Instead, screenwriters Chad and Evan Law have created a very predictable thriller that runs low on suspense and follows a couple of characters noone really cares about. This is a forgettable film.
Interestingly enough, my favorite scene in the flick is the first meeting between Allan and Jonas. The conversation between the two is pretty intense, and Gooding Jr. proves his character could actually be an interesting villain. Unfortunately, things start to go downhill from here, and while the plot is graced with a tad of suspenseful action after Allan finds out about the first murder, the film quickly turns into a banal cat-and-mouse game lacking variety.
Indeed, all we get to watch as viewers is how Allan tries to stop Jonas from killing all the people on the list. The chases get monotonous fast, and by the time the final showdown rolls around, all hope for improvement is lost. Even worse, the ridiculous ending of The Hit List is by far the most disappointing part. Did I also mention the dialogue is both cheesy and mostly completely irrelevant?
Hauser's performance is stiff and feels rehearsed most of the time. Gooding Jr. shows some welcoming attitude, but as I mentioned before, his character lacks energy. He sure gets to shoot his gun a lot, but I would have loved to see a much darker side of him. No need to even mention the rest of the cast, although I must admit Ginny Weirick looks pretty sharp as Allan's wife.
The Hit List looks decent on DVD, and the 1.78:1 widescreen transfer boasts a solid, sharp image with strong colors and adequate white and black levels. In terms of audio, the balance between sound effects and dialogue is occasionally off, though most of the film sounds all right. Don't go look for any specials on the disc. It doesn't have any.
The Hit List could be a lot worse. Sure, some chases are moderately entertaining, but looking at this film from a broader perspective, it just doesn't have anything exciting to offer.
Review content copyright © 2011 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R