Thursday, April 30, 2009

THE HIT (Stephen Frears, 1984, UK) Supergrass Willie Parker trades his life for ten years of freedom: knowing that he’ll meet the Grim Reaper some sunny day, don’t know where, don’t know when. After testifying against his accomplices, Parker’s gangster mates recite the Vera Miles classic in open court, damning their traitorous comrade to a life of shadows and paranoia…or so they think. But Director Stephen Frears shatters Crime Drama genre convention and focuses upon Parker’s existential existence, a man who has come to terms with himself and the world around him. Having no regrets, he accepts his fate when kidnapped as this travelogue takes us through the beautiful Spanish countryside, often using long shots as the characters become insignificant in contrast to the lush mountains and waterfalls, journeying upon the long and winding road of inner peace versus turmoil. Braddock’s (a silently malignant John Hurt) cold and calculating murderous rampage, a man who kills with professional instinct and without emotion offset Terence Stamp’s wonderfully philosophical performance as Parker. But the waters run deep in Braddock and he cannot kill the lovingly innocent Maggie. While Parker sows the seeds of discontent between Braddock and his protégé Myron (a punkish Tim Roth) he never seeks to escape, only to seek his fate with humane curiosity. Frears slows the narrative down with minimal crosscutting as the Spanish Police Inspector closes in upon his prey, diluting the suspense in order to peer into this dark abyss of mortality that confronts each character. The wonderful cinematography takes us through this landscape of hope and madness, and renders each as a vital element of human existence, as life and death merge into one experience that awaits us all. When confronted by his demise, Parker loses control and runs, turning his back suddenly upon his ethics, this pure survival instinct rushing through his veins. While Braddock fears his fate, he accepts it with a slight smile and a wink, finding his peace at last. (B+)