Slowly catching up on our Home Entertainment reviews and here is a review of B-Grade action, crime, lesbian movie, GUNS FOR HIRE. It will most likely be getting more attention now because of the smaller roles from Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Ben Mendelsohn who have both become very popular in recent times. GUNS FOR HIRE is out now on home entertainment from the folks at Eagle Entertainment. Kernel Jordan reviews this one. It is rated MA15+ and runs for 79mins. Enjoy Jordan’s thoughts……..all the best…….JK.
BY JORDAN DEE
GUNS FOR HIRE SYNOPSIS
An interesting spin on the sub-genre of hitman flicks, GUNS FOR HIRE is a relatively simple story about Beatle, a self-admitted assassin/tow-truck driver. The film begins with Beatle on screen being recorded on video, as she wants to put together an infomercial for her assassin business. I’ll admit this odd opening before the opening titles caught my attention, and from then on I quite enjoyed this, despite some obvious flaws.
Firstly, it must be said that the title GUNS FOR HIRE is extremely misleading. The sub-heading of ‘The Adventures of Beatle’ would make this a lot less confusing, but it is what it is. What this means though is that many viewers will probably be expecting some action.
GUNS FOR HIRE; it sounds a little like a generic action title of the 1980’s, or a B-grade Steven Seagal flick. Contrary to the misleading title, there is very little action to be seen here. The film is really a dark comedy at its roots, with an interesting lead character who remains mysterious for most of the film..
After the brief introduction, we are taken to Detective Holt’s office as he interrogates Beatle about this seemingly self-incriminating evidence. The story unfolds in a fairly typical fashion; as the detective questions Beatle, after each question we flash back to what he is talking about. While this is a fairly typical narrative device, it is enhanced by the fact that we don’t know if these flashback scenes are the detective’s assumptions, or if they actually represent what really happened. It forces the viewer to think, and it is a nice change from typical flashback scenes in films.
The transitions between the present and past are a bit jolting – evidence of a low budget or a sub-standard editor. However, unlike many bigger productions (SNOWDEN and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN being two recent examples), there isn’t an overly stylistic approach to these back and forth scenes. This works in the movie’s favour, as, unlike the films mentioned, it is never confusing – we always know where we are within the film.
It unfolds at a consistent pace, as the Detective is convinced he has the evidence to lock Beatle away. He knows she has information, and over the course of the film he tries his best to remain polite, hoping to make a deal in exchange for everything Beatle knows about the men Detective Holt is after. Beatle though is not exactly co-operative, which is what leads us to the flashback scenarios, daring us to figure out if it they are truth, or simply what the detective thinks has happened.
Early into the movie Beatle meets Athena, who seems to be the only friend Beatle has. Athena is interested in Beatle’s assassination business, so much so that she asks for a hit on herself. She is in deep trouble with bad people, but is part of a rich family. This family doesn’t seem to help her out in the slightest, but what this connection does mean is that her life insurance policy is substantial. Since Athena has no money, she offers Beatle her life insurance money as payment for her own assassination.
This is where the plot falters the most. We don’t really get to know Athena, or Beatle for that matter, and it isn’t really clear why Athena wants to die. Sure she is broke and in debt, but asking for someone to kill her? It doesn’t feel right, and Athena’s happy, positive attitude doesn’t help matters. It doesn’t feel right at all, and it easily the biggest fault within the narrative.
The two soon become close, and their relationship takes a romantic turn as they go on a date together. Thankfully, there isn’t a great amount of gratuitous lesbian sex scenes to ruin the rest of the movie, it is all tastefully done and none of it feels like it is there just for the sake of it.
Unfortunately though, the script is very inconsistent. There are plenty of laughs, but some of the lines are almost cringe-worthy, as if they were written by a college student with a brain riddled with Adderall. This isn’t too noticeable, as there are a lot of memorable and funny exchanges, made funnier by the dark nature of what is happening around them, but it could have been much, much sharper and wittier.
Compounding this problem is the acting. Beatle, played by Michele Hicks, is not very convincing as an assassin and seems rather flat. Perhaps that was the point, to have her act as a cold person, but she almost looks like an amatuer at times. Somehow worse though is Ever Carradine, who plays Athena. She overacts constantly, ruining many moments that could have been funnier. The average dialogue added with this overacting really makes for an irritating character, and it wasn’t long before I was wishing that Beatle would bump her off already.
Ben Mendelsohn and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are much better, but they have such a small amount of screen time that they barely make an impact. They serve as the bad people that Athena is in trouble with, and that is about it. It is actually quite the achievement to have created characters so thin, and so unmemorable, that two very good actors can’t make it work at all. But with so little to do, it is hard to blame them. Morgan has more scenes out of the two, and these scenes are probably the best parts of the film. If only there was more of him!
Overall, this is an interesting movie with a subversive plot. It doesn’t go where you think it is going, which is a big plus. It doesn’t have the best acting, there is some childish dialogue, and the lack of budget is pretty obvious. But it is a memorable story that avoids many cliches, making for a unique film. Unfortunately, it is a unique film that could have been a lot better.
Kernel Jordan is an aspiring novelist hailing from Adelaide, Australia. His first book is a chronicle of his experiences in a rehab centre that was more of a cult than anything else, and his goal is to finish it and pitch it to someone who matters. It can be found here. He also enjoys writing about film, which is probably his biggest obsession (apart from writing). When not writing for Salty Popcorn Jordan has his own website – he can be contacted via www.epilepticmoondancer.net