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The Passion of Killers

By Simon Le Bon

The Hit is a very well put together film about killing and how it affects people who are surrounded by and preoccupied with death.

Through the eyes of three very different and very human characters, director Stephen Frears guides us down this dark alleyway and shows us how they are changed by the events which take place.

The plot concern a professional killer (John Hurt) and his young sidekick (Tim Roth) tracking down a supergrass in Spain.

As the story unwinds the audience's sympathy switches from one to another, from Stamp to Roth to Hurt.

Tim and time again, we build up a relationship with a character, only to have our faith betrayed.

Terence Stamp is magnificent, seducing the audience in his portrayal of the aging ex-criminal Parker.

Captured by Hurt, who is taking him to Paris for 'execution', he appears to accept his inevitable end. But at the premature arrival of his assassination, he proves to be everything he has denied -- frightened and cowering from death -- and we feel cheated and bamboozled by his persuasive talk.

The illusion of trust, shattered by Parker's denial of his beliefs, is temporarily restored by John Hurt, playing Braddock. He thoroughly convinces us, the audience, that he is a ruthless killer who knows the death, the horror and the business, and is intent only on carrying out his orders.

Yet at the film's climax we discover that even this apparently insensitive character has his weakness.

Throughout the film it is Tim Roth who is the most easy for the audience to identify with.

He is Myron, who is scared, or angry, or merciful, and always stupid. At first a real ignorant, violent bastard, and later an idealistic child (who has never left the playground) who can't even face his own death, let alone anyone else's.

All this is set against the passionate Spanish landscape and filmed with a riveting delicacy.

The flamenco music got up my nose after 15 minutes but Eric Clapton's title track makes a sensitive and intriguing invitation to this tragic film.

All in all I found The Hit an enjoyable and very impressive film.

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