The Hit List (2011)

(On DVD, December 2011) If nothing else, this direct-to-video thriller has an intriguing premise: What if, discussing a very bad day at the local bar, you accidentally made a deal with a hit-man willing to take care of your hit-list?  Unsurprisingly, the film’s execution can never quite match the development of the premise: Shot on a budget in Spokane, The Hit List looks and feels like the newest digitally-shot direct-to-video effort: acceptable cinematography, two or three big action sequences, and some directing flair.  It’s in the limp script that the film’s limited ambitions become clearer.  The protagonist is meant to be portrayed by Cole Hauser as an everyman pushed beyond his limits, but he initially comes across as a schmuck and never recovers from this initial impression.  Cuba Gooding Jr. impresses as a grizzled hitman, although though his performance seems erratic and his dialogue feels forced.  The script shies away from its most interesting implications, and wastes time showcasing an overlong, mean-spirited and largely unnecessary police station shoot-out.  The lacking quality of the script, from its overreaching dialogues to its lack of thematic depth to the graceless way it moves its plot pieces, is the film’s biggest disappointment: While it tries to ape a bit of Collateral’s impact, The Hit List never really rises above its mediocre execution.  The ideas are there, but the polish isn’t… and as any good hit-man will tell you, execution is far more important than intentions.

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