Not Even Eric Roberts Can Save A Hitman In London

Chris Lockie
By Chris Lockie Last edited 107 months ago

Last Updated 10 July 2015

Not Even Eric Roberts Can Save A Hitman In London ★☆☆☆☆ 1


Londonist Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

'Because some people just need killing'. That's the line on the front cover of this movie. 'Because some people just need killing'. You don't know how right you are.

We have a brand new London movie for you. Its cover includes a pair of military choppers slicing through the sky above the Houses of Parliament just to prove how London it is, even though there are no choppers in the movie and less London than Tit.

A Hitman in London is a classic tale of redemption and revenge, which is exactly what we need and deserve having watched it. Hitman Bradley Smith is a killer with a moral core: "Some people might think that I don't have a conscience, that it's all about the money. Well that's never been true. Before I do a job I always ask why."

It doesn't really matter what the answer is, but he asks so that's all right. He starts the film attempting to get an unspecified disc from some crook in New York and ends up accidentally shooting said crook's pregnant daughter in the gut. He's laughed out of the profession as a result and ends up living in some hovel in a nameless part of London, where he sees a Russian pimp beat up one of his charges, gets involved (this is the 'redemption' bit), kicks to death increasingly implausible numbers of henchmen as events snowball, and finds himself entangled with a group called The Executive. These might or might not be the people he was killing for previously, it's not at all clear.

The hitman in the movie is played by English actor Gary Daniels. No? Let's ask Wikipedia: "He is best known for playing Kenshiro in the live-action version of Fist of the North Star. He was also seen in the Sylvester Stallone film The Expendables as Lawrence 'The Brit' Sparks, an ally of the villain James Munroe." And despite this questionable oeuvre, Daniels is actually one of the least bad things about the film.

He's not the only actor involved though, not by the long chalk used to outline the hundreds and hundreds of corpses littering London's streets by the end of this shambles. There are stars! Actual stars! Let's see how they fare.

Eric Roberts: Julia's brother has recently attained cult status through the huge volume of diabolical films he grins and winks his way through knowingly. He's at his very best here, but his baffling decisions pull the rug from under what could have been cinema's finest villain since Scaramanga. For example, in a tense shoot-out Eric's character finds himself holding a gun behind the head of the man he's desperate to kill, a yard away. Our hero spins around. Eric's legged it. Shouldn't have, it turns out.

Michael Madsen: as Madsen's career rolls towards a Tom Sizemore-style cataclysm, he has carved out a niche as 'bored Mr Blonde' in every film he appears. Here he plays an American who inexplicably finds himself running a Russian knocking shop in London, squinting in tired disbelief as he attempts to keep his business intact in the face of a rampant Gary Daniels. None of his scenes are filmed outside. It's almost as though he refused to leave America to film them.

Daryl Hannah: layers on the eye-liner to play Madsen's henchwoman; also doesn't trouble herself with a trip across the Atlantic. She acts as though drunk throughout, which is quite understandable. Splash 2 seems further away than ever.

Mickey Rourke: has the disc Gary wants at the start. Acts like he's been told to make up his lines as he goes along, which is probably why his character seems the most plausible. Had a daughter, then doesn't, and at no point seems particularly cut up about it, though he looks even more destroyed than usual so he might have been trying to pull expressions of unspeakable turmoil for all we know.

Are you taking the piss?

Alan Ford: a three-minute scene in which he swears as only Alan Ford can. It is wonderful. "YOU COME IN HERE POINTING A SHOOTER AT ME? WHAT AM I, A FACKING CANT?" Knighthood's in the post, son.

There's also Jeff Fahey. He was in Psycho III, Lawnmower Man and the Season 3 premiere of Miami Vice as gun dealer Eddie Kaye, in which he famously destroyed Detective Sonny Crockett's Ferrari Daytona. In A Hitman In London, he looks like he's going to cry.

The film is directed by Ara Paiaya, whose previous credits include Maximum Impact, Dark Nights and The Suppressor as he bids to rack up as many Clint Eastwood movies as he can, not actually involving Clint Eastwood in any way. His direction is not the film's biggest problem, though if it was his decision to fill every scene with pointless incidental music, he should be strapped to a chair and forced to listen to Matt Cardle's back catalogue on repeat.

But perhaps vitriol should be reserved for Adam Davidson, the brains behind the screenplay. Accepting that his original work may have been bastardised to some extent during the making of this filth, this can't have taken him more than three hours of an afternoon session in the Lamb & Flag to put together. Are there not countless budding screenwriters with brand new ideas that would make a contract assassin stumbling around London with a wailing brass in tow as unique and original as a Christopher Nolan film? Could Mrs Ewart's Year 2 scholars at Barnfield Primary not job together a better story than this between readings from My Big Truck?

The film eventually ends in a predictable crack of teeth and splatter of claret, as the various unrelated strands of the plot grind together as successfully as that pink mashed potato some pillock made on MasterChef the other day. Those characters not killed off are simply forgotten, though we're sorry for the spoiler but Rubbery Rourke survives the movie simply for the obligatory sequel set-up. Another Hitman in London. Jesus.

This is all so horrible. Londonist's foray into film reviews has recently taken a hideous turn towards grim action fare that has less to do with London than villagers in Somerset who picture our city as filled with horrifying criminals breaking each others necks with roundhouses. Just because you buy some stock footage taken from a helicopter over the centre of the city, that doesn't mean you're allowed to con us into watching a batch of bollocks like this just by putting the L word in the title.

Because some people just need killing.

A Hitman in London is out now on DVD. Don't.