With the vague notion of writing a novel in Mexico, would-be author Walter Pool (Eric Roberts) dumps his girlfriend in New Jersey and chucks his dead-end job. Observing how Walter belts down booze, an obsequious stranger named Luis Graves (James McManus) sizes up his patsy potential and offers down-on-his-luck Walter a gig as a hit man. Too soused to think straight, Walter accepts. Luis's wealthy, sadistic client Jose Guerras (Joaquim de Almeida), will pay Walter $100,000 for assassinating Herberto Ortega (Victor Rivers), whom Guerras accuses of the rape and murder of his college-age son. Before he knows it, inebriated Walter is pointing a shaky pistola at Ortega, who offers a different slant on the murder of Guerras Jr. A defeatist Ortega promptly kills himself, which seems to solve Walter's dilemma, but his problems have just begun. Brimming with razor-sharp direction and the kind of juicy dialogue you rarely hear in contemporary films, this booze-soaked cautionary tale is unable to sustain its idiosyncratic style. Still, at its considerable best, this mesmerizingly photographed neo-noir is reminiscent of that south-of-the-border classic, TOUCH OF EVIL. After wasting time in dozens of trashy action flicks, Roberts rebounds with a penetrating performance as an Ugly American drifter who dances with the devil. Best of all, however, is screenwriter McManus's gem-like performance as a cutthroat fond of speaking in aphorisms. If only the symbolic aspects of the screenplay didn't overwhelm the narrative as Walter discovers the quality of mercy. His redemption isn't nearly as arresting as his downfall.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: R
- Review: With the vague notion of writing a novel in Mexico, would-be author Walter Pool (Eric Roberts) dumps his girlfriend in New Jersey and chucks his dead-end job. Observing how Walter belts down booze, an obsequious stranger named Luis Graves (James McManus) s… (more)