18 April 2011 | rsoonsa
This Attempt At A Remake Is A Less Than Impressive, Thinly Plotted, Hodgepodge.
Here we have a revamp of a 1982 Argentinian film, ULTIMOS DIAS DE LA VICTIMA, a work produced by Héctor Olivera, and ably directed by Adolfo Aristarain, a craftsman superior to Olivera, who directs this piece, each version being scripted in part by José Pablo Feinmann, after his novel. This effort quickly overstays its welcome, albeit it benefits from some creative camera compositions by cinematographer Leonardo Rodríguez Solís. James Conrad (Don Stroud) is a professional assassin who does not wish to continue in his vocational calling because each time he kills he "dies a little". Nonetheless, there remains one final victim to be demolished, in Buenos Aires, where his long-time employer, a mysterious "Company", has assigned him to accomplish an apparently routine extermination. It immediately becomes something other than a mechanical event after Conrad falls in love with his anticipated victim's mistress, Cecilia Lorca (Adrienne Sachs), a woman whose moral principles are the equivalent of those of Conrad's at crucial points. The latter's planned retreat from what has been a successful, although somewhat tarnished career will be to Nepal, an eccentric selection for a retired liquidator. When Conrad asks Cecilia to accompany him there she, who had been seeking her main chance with "rich and powerful" men prior to linking up with her murderous lover, not surprisingly finds a jaunt into the Himalayas to be fraught with concerns that she prefers to forego. Her reticence clearly indicates to cold-blooded Conrad that he will probably be rehearsing mantras unaccompanied, but in any event he must complete his last homicidal task before making any serious programme to redeem his soul. Unfortunately, he cannot rely upon good will from friend or foe. Flaws in continuity and logic are rife, with the film's early signs of style being smothered by a script that is largely the labour of Feinmann, who bases the piece, as for the mentioned 1982 production, upon his first published novel, a significantly unexceptional narrative that has a more prominent political bent than is to be found here. Happily, the movie is broadly cut, which does, however, account for its surfeit of senseless scenes. Sachs is cast as a dancer in a night club owned by a former colleague of Conrad, and she is quite as undistinguished in that capacity as she is as an actress. Stroud is effective but cannot separate his role from a muddled screenplay that places most of its intended impact upon a surprise ending that does not.