27 August 2011 | SteveSkafte
"Diary of a Hit-man" is something more than the average entry into the neo-noir genre of many such films produced in the 80s/90s. They usually hold a similar trashy appeal, more style than substance, and not too much in the way of quality performances. Forest Whitaker helps to make this an exception from the mold. Here, playing a variant of his later role in "Ghost Dog", he lets you into the mind of a conflicted, controlling, somewhat neurotic hit-man.
This film was adapted from a play by Kenneth Pressman, and the middle act pays testament to that. A series of scenes in a small apartment capture a real depth of emotion, both from Whitaker and his target (played by Sherilyn Fenn). It seems almost claustrophobic, but there's a power to it. Roy London doesn't show a lot of experience in his direction, but he does express a good deal of humanity. This is a grounded film, personal. There's no cheap exploitation feel, nor is there any sense of big budget Hollywood.
The acting is the real reason to watch "Diary of a Hit-man". Even the small roles have something to offer. I particularly liked the two doctors, one a psychiatrist (John Bedford Lloyd), the other an optometrist (Ken Lerner). James Belushi and Sharon Stone show up briefly, but aren't given a whole lot to do. This isn't an overly complicated or particularly far-reaching film, but the narration lets you under its skin, and there's no terrible overacting or delusions of grandeur. The title might seem cheap, but "Diary of a Hit-man" has a lot more to offer.