Interview with a Hitman is the début production by Perry Bhandal and stars a certain Luke Goss, who rose to fame as one half of 1980′s pop sensation Bros. Having appeared in a host of American titles such as Blade II, Hellboy II: The Golden Army and Death Race 2, it’s bound to be refreshing for the actor to return to his native country, and also to be in a film that isn’t a sequel.
Goss plays Viktor, an Eastern European assassin who takes a long, hard look at his life when being interviewed post-career, and although no longer a hitman, there seems to be some unfinished business that remains. He begins by analysing his very own childhood, where we see how the troubled child (played by Elliot Greene) first came to be involved in the darker side of the Romanian streets, as he slowly builds up somewhat of a notorious reputation, eventually becoming a professional killer.
However Viktor is betrayed by the very people who made him who he is, so in order to escape he intelligently fakes his own death and flees to England. Despite continuing to become embroiled in a similarly dangerous lifestyle in London, he soon meets the beautiful Bethesda (Caroline Tillette) and suddenly Viktor can see a different path for them both, and he seeks in giving up his line of work altogether to start anew. Yet he soon realises that there is no such thing as a fresh start when you’re in this deep, and Viktor is going to have to pay for his former actions, whilst attempting to resolve some unanswered questions in the meantime as his past soon catches up with the present day…
Considering Interview with a Hitman is Bhandal’s début feature film, it’s certainly a brave attempt by the British film maker in what proves to be a stylish thriller that takes risks – although sadly for Bhandal such risks have not particularly paid off. The first ten minutes bear no dialogue, which although being somewhat original does come across as being contrived, not to mention ambiguous as it becomes increasingly difficult to comprehend what is actually going on.
Clearly taking pointers form Drive, Bhandal can’t be faulted from a stylistic perspective, as the darkly-lit setting adds to the bleakness of the story at hand, creating an emotive and tense atmosphere, almost film noir like. The camera work is effective also, as its shaky, amateurish feel adds to the naturalistic approach taken by Bhandal. However, herein lies a prime example of a film that is all style and no substance, because as soon as the dialogue kicks in things start to go downhill, as given the lack of talent within the acting performances, this film may just have benefited from remaining silent.
At times cringe-worthy, the supporting cast have a lot to answer for, as some of the more challenging scenes are simply devalued by the mediocrity in the performances. It doesn’t help that the characters are predominantly Romanian whilst the actors are British. There are a host of questionable accents, most notably by Goss, who sounds more like an Aussie. There will be people in Romania watching this who will find this highly amusing I’m sure. However in Goss’ defence, he turns in an impressive performance otherwise, definitely proving to be the best thing in it.
He suits the role of Viktor perfectly, as he is a serious, concentrated actor, who encapsulates the intensity of the role at hand, and it certainly helps that he just so happens to look just like a hitman. However, I don’t feel we truly manage to get into his head, which detracts from the entire point of the film. It feels as though we’re merely viewing his life from the outside, not truly gaining a sense of the repercussions of murdering people and leading such a ruthless life. Although perhaps his mystifying nature is a deliberate move, and we aren’t supposed to be able to work this complex character out, thus furthering the perplexity of the enigma that is Viktor. Or it’s just a poor character study. One of the two.
Other issues lie within the rather askew flashbacks that exist throughout, as we delve into Viktor’s past. Firstly, although we are moving back and forth between thirty years or so, the supporting cast look as though they’ve aged two weeks in between, as the same actors maintain their roles. Stephen Marcus grows a little beard, but that’s not really enough. Also, it’s odd that in the flashbacks they skipped the whole bit when our protagonist became a pop star.
Interview with a Hitman has potential to be a better film than it is, as it carries an intriguing premise, an impressive lead performance and certainly looks the part. However, the acting is just second-rate and sensationalist, and the less said about the script the better. On a more positive note the finale is enjoyable, so much so that if you’re half way through and contemplating giving up, it’s worth holding on, for peace of mind at the very least.