25 July 2005 | rsoonsa
Offers A Good Deal Of Value.
When Michael Grant (Bryan Brown), an assassin employed by an intelligence agency, has his latest target in his sniper rifle sights, he suddenly decides against pulling the trigger and, thereby aware that his usefulness to his employer is at an end, he resigns from his position and purchases a rural New Mexico house close to that of his near victim Wilbur Bryant (Harris Yulin), with whose daughter Anna (Brooke Adams) he falls in love, complicating his general circumstances because his erstwhile handler apparently is determined to complete the killing assignment without Grant by deploying alternate personnel. Based upon a popular novel, "The Long Kill" (original shooting title of the production), by Reginald Hill writing as Patrick Ruell, there is a critical alteration from the book that concerns Grant's reason for retiring: changed from deteriorating eyesight to becoming emotionally involved in his assignments, and there is no need to inquire as to which condition has greater appeal to viewers. The scenario focuses upon the melodramatic and contains with very little that is original written for a storyline crammed with coincidence, but fortunately this film is one of those uncommon items that manages to rise above its script limitations, buoyed by superlative direction, playing, and camera-work to a satisfying level whereby it no longer is in debt to the Ruell piece. Director Jan Egleson paces the action impeccably to build an atmosphere of suspense, demonstrating a fine sense of detail, and the cast is uniformly excellent, Brown and Adams naturalistically effective as lovers in their mid-forties who must deal with complicated issues, while Yulin provides, as is customary, a dependable performance in his role of the nearly slain Bryant and Daniel von Bargen garners the acting honours as an intelligence agency overseer with a possible hidden agenda. Most of the goings-on are set and shot in very scenic locations near Las Vegas, New Mexico, with splendid cinematography by Tom Priestley, Jr. and a nicely wrought score from Gary Chang enhancing this interesting film of a government assassin driven into a corner by a combination of his murderous past and his current romantic involvement.