(director/writer: Nick Stagliano; screenwriter: James C. Wolf; cinematographer: Frank Prinzi; editor: James LeSage; music: Brooke Blair, Will Blair; cast: Anthony Hopkins (Mentor), Anson Mount (Virtuoso), Abbie Cornish (Waitress), David Morse (Sheriff), Eddie Marsan (Loner), Ryan Jonze (GTO guy), Shay Guthrie (GTO girl), Richard Brake (Johnnie), Diora Baird (Johnnie’s girlfriend), Chris Perfetti (The Motel Clerk); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Nick Stagliano; Lionsgate/Pelican Films; 2021)

The artless film attracted a stellar cast, but they were distracted by the mediocre material.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A misfire hitman drama dully directed by Nick Stagliano (“Good Day For It”/”The Florentine”) and poorly written by James C. Wolf. It’s set mostly over the course of one night, and comes with a monotone voiceover narration by the film’s taciturn contract killer protagonist trying to tells us he’s a professional even as he screws up his assignments.

In a sleepy country town, a nameless professional contract killer (Anson Mount) accepts assignments from his enigmatic mentor and boss (Anthony Hopkins, who just won an Oscar playing The Father and now appears in this dreck), who it turns out is a guilt-ridden American vet of the Vietnam War (Don’t ask me why he is an American who speaks with a British accent). We learn that the Mentor is someone who still frets about the war’s “collateral damage”.
The killer, certainly no virtuoso, screws up every assignment but the first one we witness him do, and has a change of conscience
later on about his occupation when an innocent woman becomes “collateral damage” and is gunned down before her young child. But the Mentor calls on him again and sends him to an of the way rural town to hunt down someone who is connected with the cryptic words “White Rivers.”

At precisely 5 pm, the confused Virtuoso enters Rosie’s Roadside Café, to find there the following patrons: Handsome Johnnie (Richard Brake) sitting with his Girl (Diora Baird), a gun-toting Loner (Eddie Marsan), and a Deputy Sheriff (David Morse), along with the amiable flirty Waitress (Abbie Cornish). The killer is not sure who he’s contracted to kill and decides to track each of them down when they leave and try to figure out what is the meaning of the phrase “White River,” never recognizing that he’s been set-up. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s at this time his PTSD kicks in and he seems more out of it than usual.

The artless film attracted a stellar cast, but they were distracted by the mediocre material. By the time the big twist comes at the climax, you feel lucky if you haven’t come down with a case of the shakes.

The Virtuoso

REVIEWED ON 5/13/2021  GRADE:  C-