Despite its can't-win premise, HIRED TO KILL marshalls just enough flair to make one wish it were a lot better. Beefy Brian Thompson plays Frank Ryan, a pugnacious globe-trotting soldier of fortune summoned by self-proclaimed "businessman" Thomas (George Kennedy), a shady manipulator with congressional ties and a taste for covert conspiracies. He pays Ryan...read more
Despite its can't-win premise, HIRED TO KILL marshalls just enough flair to make one wish it were a lot better.
Beefy Brian Thompson plays Frank Ryan, a pugnacious globe-trotting soldier of fortune summoned by self-proclaimed "businessman" Thomas (George Kennedy), a shady manipulator with congressional ties and a taste for covert conspiracies. He pays Ryan to go to a tropical banana republic and kill Rallis
(Jose Ferrer), a revolutionary who threatens American interests. Unfortunately, Rallis is housed in an impregnable fortress overseen by death-squad commander Michael Bartos (Oliver Reed)--and a computer has concluded that the only way Ryan can penetrate it is to masquerade as a swishy photographer
on a fashion shoot with six sexy models.
Cranky Frank doesn't want any girls in tow: "From Eve to Margaret Thatcher, [women] have managed to screw up history!" These females aren't bimbo mannequins, though, but a handpicked bunch of fellow mercenaries, ex-terrorists and outlaw broads. Much screen time is devoted to these Magnificent Six
and their transformation from hellcats to slinky fashion plates with crack combat skills, thanks to a training regimen rife with Frank's crude male-chauvinist remarks. At last the adventurers embark on their mission, but things aren't what they seem. The feared Rallis turns out to be a courageous
captive dissident whom Thomas has marked for termination at the behest of evil Arabs. When Frank figures out he's been made an expendable patsy in an assassination doublecross, his team releases Rallis and turns the tables on Thomas.
While the betrayals and plot twists tie the tale's logic in loops, one is still grateful for the distraction from the main conflict between Frank and his female comrades. The avowedly amoral commando goes way beyond "cute" neanderthal sexism into genuine violence, raping freedom-fighter Ana
(Michelle Moffett), who immediately becomes his willing love slave, just as accompanying ex-girlfriend Sheila (Barbara Lee Alexander) conveniently bites the dust in battle. That Ryan spares Rallis's life is supposed to represent some sort of dawning conscience in the hero, but he's still a
one-dimensional misanthropic goon.
Brian Thompson (COBRA, LIONHEART) has previously played nemesis to such heavyweights as Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme, displaying an easy attitude and humor that hinted of better things. Here he's got one extraordinary scene in which, keeping up the homosexual facade, he kisses
bewildered villain Oliver Reed full on the lips, but otherwise this is no breakthrough role.
Its politically incorrect protagonist aside, HIRED TO KILL ultimately stands or falls by how it handles the central gimmick of an all-girl strike force, a situation tailor-made for crass exploitation T & A. Yes indeed, there's the inevitable music-video display of evening-gown and swimwear
modelling, followed by a perfectly gratuitous poolside catfight. On balance, however, there's less cheesecake than there could have been. The women are capable actresses, believably unglamorous before their camouflage makeovers, and when the shooting starts they get as good as they give--although
messy action sequences make it tough to tell who dies and who doesn't.
Despite exotic settings and generous stunts, production values lean to the shabby side. Street signs display fresh hand-lettering, and a subterranean cave has a soundstage-smooth floor. Codirector-writer-producer Nico Mastorakis is a vetern B-movie auteur whose films are a real mixed bag of good
and sleazeball elements, and HIRED TO KILL makes no exception. (Violence, profanity, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations.)
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