Since it looks like I’ve seen every movie Academy Award Winner Cuba Gooding Jr. has made in the last five years, I think I have a good idea how he picks his projects. I’m sure he gets a lot of scripts and probably just looks at the character synopsis. Schoolteacher… nope. Retired athlete… nope. United States Senator… nope. Tortured Super Special-Ops Badass… Here We Go! Cuba plays Tortured Super Special-Ops badasses so often that if I’m certain his wife and kids step very lightly around the brother because he might get confused. By my rudimentary calculations, about one out of every four of the Tortured Badass movies that Mr. Gooding Jr. makes is actually watchable, but the good thing for us, with his latest Tortured Badass flick ‘The Hit List’, is that the curve has swung our way. But you know what that means for the next three Tortured Badass flicks, don’t you?
When we first meet Jonas Arbor (Gooding Jr.) he is coughing. You know full well if you cough in a movie, that means you are going to die. Jonas, a professional killer for the government, is supposed to do a job but that cough has kind of made him go a little crazy and has caused a refocus of his priorities.
Somewhere else nearby we meet Allan Campbell (Cole Hauser). You want to see a bad day? Allan has had a bad day. For starters he’s sporting a shiner delivered to him by some violent bookie he owes money to. Then he pours coffee himself. Then he goes into a meeting to receive his big promotion but the promotion goes to the asshole across the hall, and he needed that promotion to pay off the violent bookie. Distraught, he goes home to be with the wife that he loves to death (Ginny Weirick) only to find out that she was screwing his best friend. Just so you know… this wife of his wasn’t screwing the best friend because she’s a slutty whore, but because she wanted to get a point across to her detached husband. Though it’s not my place to tell you wives out there how to communicate with your husbands, but I am of the opinion that fucking their best friends is probably not the best communicative technique.
Regardless, that’s a bad day and a day like that deserves a drink. At the bar Allan, by chance, meets Jonas. They drink, they talk, Jonas informs Allan that he’s a weak bitch and this is why these things happen to him and he also informs him that he’s a
professional killer. Allan doesn’t believe this, but to prove it Jonas asks Allan to write down on a napkin five people he would like murderized. Should Allan have done this? Of course not. Who’s number one on this list? The wife that has a really strange way of making a point. Jonas promises that this list will be complete in a couple of days, starting from five and working his way up to number one. Imagine Jonas surprise the next day when he learns that Number Five is dead.
Now Allan, who has no skills and is fairly spineless, has to stop this rouge government assassin before he makes it up to number one. His wife might have an odd way of ‘communicating’ but he doesn’t want her to die. Fortunately Allan and the wife are safe at the local Police Department. One would think. I don’t remember what city this is, but they are going to need a bunch of new cops come tomorrow morning. Apply today!
Directed by William Kaufman, we do admire the single-minded linear focus that he delivered with his film ‘The Hit List’. As the movie was playing out we were concerned that they would try to hit us with a ‘twist’ or perhaps attempt to get clever or intelligent, which I have found, more often than not, just ruins everything. But not this movie, no sir. It stayed focused on moving forward and concentrating on an angry dude with a cough shooting people in the head for ninety or so minutes. That’s outstanding.
Is it a stupid action movie? Oh good heavens yes. If a dude is in the process of murdering your entire police department and you have a bead on him from the rear… don’t yell ‘FREEZE’. Don’t do it. If you know that this super assassin is heading back to the department dressed like one of your cop colleagues, you should probably call the department IMMEDIATELY, as opposed to waiting until you’ve driven all the way across town and have almost arrived back at the station. If you’re the rouge assassin’s boss and it’s your job to bring him down, this probably isn’t the best time to have a long conversation and then try to play quick-draw. Especially when his gun is in his hand and your gun is behind your back, stuck in its holster. Don’t do that. And while having sex with your best friend’s wife is never good, doing this at his house in his bed… what can I say, you probably deserve what you get. And if this wife had found a better way to communicate, none of this would’ve happened.
But it’s a Stupid Action Movie! We love that kind of stupid stuff. Cuba plays a tortured badass… think he can do that? Yes he can. Cole Hauser plays sniveling weasel which he was surprisingly good at and Jonathan LaPaglia puts in good work as the lousy cop investigating these broad-daylight murders. Kaufman keeps his movie moving forward at an accelerated rate, there’s car chases, explosions and more death by bullet to the brain than you can shake a stick at.
If you don’t watch movies like this, you probably won’t like ‘The Hit List’. If your baseline for an action movie is ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ or ‘Die Hard’, you probably won’t like this movie. If you watch a lot of Straight to DVD movies starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and his brethren, then I’m thinking you might find something to enjoy in this gloriously stupid action flick.