Anson Mount leads an esteemed ensemble cast to nowhere in a dull and plodding crime thriller. The Virtuoso has an introspective hit man searching for a mysterious target in a sleepy town. He narrates almost every action as he methodically goes about his bloody work. The problem is that our so-called expert continually makes foolish mistakes. Which leads to a rather obvious conclusion in a snoozer of a final act. The Virtuoso has a lot of talent on screen, but fails to be compelling in almost every regard.
The Virtuoso (Anson Mount) takes great care in planning every kill. He’s a meticulous assassin who prides himself on factoring in every contingency. He knows that quick decisions and a lack of credible information leads to mistakes. The Virtuoso lives a quiet life off-grid in a remote cabin. His only company is a stray dog that shows up every morning. He shows an inkling of compassion by feeding the equally lonely critter.
A routine assignment has a horrible aftermath. The Mentor (Anthony Hopkins) consoles his guilt-laden protégé. He instructs the Virtuoso to bury his feelings deep and move on to the next job. Their business is murder without regrets. He’s given a scant clue to hunt down the mark in a small town. At the local cafe, the fetching waitress (Abbie Cornish) is aroused by the enigmatic newcomer. But the deputy (David Morse) and several other customers also take interest in his arrival. The Virtuoso must deduce his quarry’s identity quickly, or risk becoming the prey himself.
Director/co-writer Nick Stagliano (Good Day for It) employs a near constant use of voice over narration. The Virtuoso says very little out loud, but explains almost every action internally. This is used to reinforce his social anxiety and inability for meaningful human interaction. But he’s not an unbridled sociopath, as illustrated by his guilt for “collateral damage”, caring for the dog, and interest in the waitress. The problem is that his personal issues are not explored in a thoughtful way. And his actions are completely illogical for supposedly such a skilled murderer. The protagonist is clearly not a virtuoso at his craft.
Abbie Cornish is the only engaging supporting character. This is not good when you have two-time Best Actor Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins, David Morse, Eddie Marsan, and Richard Brake in the ensemble. They have nifty names like the waitress, mentor, and deputy, but are essentially one-note characters with clunky, sparse dialogue. I’d love to read this script because I honestly can’t understand what drew actors of their caliber to this story.
The Virtuoso’s action scenes aren’t bad, but are fleeting and don’t resonate. The entire exercise feels like a lost opportunity. I’ll liken it to a boring meal with expensive ingredients. You expect so much more from a film with a top tier cast. The Virtuoso is a blasé character study from start to finish. It is produced by Pelican Films and Nazz Productions. The film will have a theatrical and on demand release by Lionsgate on April 30th. It will also be available May 4th on DVD/Blu-ray.
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