Not everyone knows the difference, but technically an assassin is one who kills an important person for political or religious reasons, whereas a hitman is an alternative enforcer of personal justice who will just bump off anyone for any reason (usually money). We get both this week at the illustrious Village 8 Cinema.
The Hitman's Bodyguard, featuring solid chemistry between Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane) and Ryan Reynolds (Waiting, Deadpool), is entirely watchable, but overall the flick is a bit too familiar/clichéd, and doesn't really ever transcend its stupid title.
So let's give the assassins a shot. American Assassin opens this week and there were no pre-screeners (Bad sign? Or clever, because one rarely sees an assassination coming?). In any case, we do know that it's directed by Michael Cuesta (Roadie, Kill the Messenger) and stars Dylan O'Brien (The Maze Runner) as a dude with an axe to grind after his hot girlfriend is killed in a terrorist attack. Assassin-ing seems like a logical way to grieve, so he enlists in a CIA black-ops unit under the instruction of master assassin Michael Keaton (Batman, The Founder) and ends up hunting "Ghost," a golden assassin turned rogue played by Taylor Kitsch (Savages, Snakes on a Plane). There is also a nuclear weapon involved.
Cuesta is a skilled director and Keaton has been on a good run lately, but this one kinda looks like a cross between a non-parody Team America and Steven Seagal's bloodstream, circa 1991. So... much... testosterone.
Also playing, and probably a much better film, Wind River is the latest from actor-turned-screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, best known for penning the scripts for Sicario and last year's epic Hell or High Water. This time Sheridan is also directing, and he sets his story, a character-driven murder mystery/thriller, on a snow-swept native reservation in Wyoming, and it's a doozy.
Jeremy Renner (American Hustle, The Town) stars as a fish and wildlife officer tracking predators (mainly an allegorical mountain lion) on the reserve when he finds the frozen body of a young Indigenous woman. Enter Vegas-based rookie, FBI agent Elizabeth Olsen (Ingrid Goes West, Captain America: Civil War) and Canadian star Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves, Twilight) as the Tribal Police officer prone to wisely summing up situations with lines like "This isn't backup country, this is you're-on-your-own country."
Wind River is a sparse, barren film. The landscape is in charge, the men are stoic, the women are tough (but still vulnerable), and Sheridan deserves credit for telling a story about a culture on the margins of society. Ignored and impoverished is too familiar a scene on reservations, and the conversations around this film are just as important here in the Great White North as they are down south.
My only gripe would be that focusing on Renner's character too much makes Wind River a bit of a white man's revenge tale, but there's a flashback featuring the murdered girl that hints at a more interesting and poignant story we'll never get to see.
The other big news this week is that killer-clown horror flick It made over $123 million at the domestic box office last weekend, easily assassinating the previous records for a September-October opening (held by Gravity at $55 million). This means a couple of things: 1) Horror movies rule and they'll be around forever; 2) Creepy clowns will be the big Halloween costume this year; 3) You should probably muster up the courage to go see It at the Village 8 this weekend (it's a good way to avoid the scores of impeccably bearded craft-brewery posers in town for Beer Fest. You know those cats can't handle Pennywise. They can't chop wood either, despite the plaid).
It also holds the record for the most successful horror flick opening ever, despite no added 3D costs, and over 175 U.S. cinemas closed down due to Hurricane Irma. It is the shit.
New on DVD/Download this Week: Baby Driver (great love story), Baywatch (stupid and macho) and Goon: Last of the Enforcers (not as good as the first one but it's Canadian and hockey starts soon, so rent it.)
Also, watch out for snipers!