The Virtuoso

In 3 Marcus theatres, on digital and on demand beginning April 30; Blu-Ray and DVD May 4.

THE PLOT:

A professional assassin, The Virtuoso (Anson Mount), takes on a sketchy new assignment from his boss, The Mentor (Anthony Hopkins), that involves going to a small rural town where his target could be several mysterious people. It gets complicated when a woman he meets, The Waitress (Abbie Cornish), is a little too friendly and asks too many questions.

LYNN’S TAKE:

A hard-boiled, old-fashioned film noir starts out promising enough but unravels quickly in “The Virtuoso.”

After winning his second Oscar April 25, Anthony Hopkins will not be gunning for his seventh nomination next year as a nerves of steel Vietnam veteran who now runs a murder-for-hire business. He is only in a few scenes but delivers a couple important speeches pontificating on society’s killing machines and reconciling with the violence one administers in carrying out their duties.

His protégé, The Virtuoso, is the son of one of his war buddies. He is played by Anson Mount, who looks the part with a steely gaze. This icy loner somehow develops a conscience after messy collateral damage occurs during a quickie corporate target.

Mount starts the movie in a monotone, delivering a tutorial on how efficiently he handles his company business – and later, while wrapping up a confusing series of plot twists, promptly forgets everything he has learned and bungles the big assignment.

Screenwriters James C. Wolf and Nick Stagliano give us few details, which is maddening, I suppose to keep us as detached as the lead. They dangle clues but shroud the who and why in mystery. When The Virtuoso arrives at a sleepy town’s diner, suspicious locals are inside.

Why waste character actors David Morse, as a sheriff, and Eddie Marzan, as “The Loner”? Really a shame that their work is so brief and inconsequential.

Abbie Cornish is saddled with the worst dialogue a flirtatious woman is forced to use to seduce a guy who is not having any. By the time they hook up, the loose ends have piled up.

You’d think in a small town, when people are getting blown away by high-powered ammunition, authorities would take note.

The film’s saving grace is its look. Cinematographer Frank Prinzi and production designer Norm Dodge use their limited resources to give the forests and small town a foreboding atmosphere, while composers Brooke Blair and Will Blair crafted an ominous score.

With its dissatisfying ending and unanswered questions, “The Virtuoso” is a letdown.