In The Shadows

This cockamamie thriller suggests that there's no such thing as a bad hit man, offering as evidence anti-hero Eric O'Byrne (Matthew Modine), who lets his conscience be his guide to the detriment of his career. Despite his Irish heritage, Eric is a made man indebted to Uncle Carlo Pierazzi (Val Avery); his unexpected kindliness lands him in jail after he...read more

Reviewed by Robert Pardi
Rating:

This cockamamie thriller suggests that there's no such thing as a bad hit man, offering as evidence anti-hero Eric O'Byrne (Matthew Modine), who lets his conscience be his guide to the detriment of his career. Despite his Irish heritage, Eric is a made man indebted to Uncle Carlo Pierazzi (Val Avery); his unexpected kindliness lands him in jail after he spares the innocent witness to a hit. Meanwhile, Eric's paisano, Jimmy Pierazzi (Lillo Brancato Jr.), takes a leave of absence from his Uncle Sal's mob to take a shot at a new line of work. Jimmy gets a gig in Florida as a movie/tv stunt man for Lance Huston (James Caan), and falls hard for Huston's daughter, oncologist Clarissa (Joey Lauren Adams). Moved by the plight of her pain-wracked terminal patients, Jimmy decides to help her locate unorthodox — okay, illegal — drugs for them. To that end, Jimmy dusts off his gangster skills and rips off a Miami drug entrepreneur named Draven (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). Unfortunately, Draven is not only undercover federal agent, but a dirty one. Jimmy subsequently perishes in an on-set accident and Uncle Carlo springs Eric as part of a vendetta against Huston, whom he blames for Jimmy's death. Eric insinuates himself into Huston's inner circle, only to find himself falling for Clarissa and admiring her dad. Even though he's supposed to kill Huston, Eric procrastinates, though he's happy enough to follow Uncle Carlo's orders to mow down the two-timing Draven with his car. Eric takes a long, hard look at his options, and realizes the choice comes down to old family or new, and compromise is impossible. This overly complicated wise-guy adventure makes good use of the stunt work background. But it falters in the areas of characterization, plot resolution and general narrative credibility.

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