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The Hit Reviews

Stephen Frears' second feature as a director (after his debut, 1971's GUMSHOE, he had worked in TV for 13 years) is an offbeat, existential crime drama buoyed by fine performances; nicely turned dialogue; and an evocative soundtrack and theme song from Paco di Lucia and Eric Clapton, respectively. The story begins in 1973 at a criminal trial where former mob operative Willie Parker (Terence Stamp) testifies against his sometime cronies. After turning state's evidence, he is released. Cut to a quiet Spanish village ten years later. Parker, having enjoyed a quiet, contemplative period of exile following his turning state's evidence, is flushed out of his house by a gang of thugs and handed over to Braddock (John Hurt), a veteran hit man, and his volatile young assistant, Myron (Tim Roth). Parker is hustled into their car, to be taken to Paris and executed by a mob chieftain for his testimony of ten years before. Stamp, however, doesn't seem in the least bit frightened; in fact, he seems to enjoy what is happening... In THE HIT, director Stephen Frears works against all genre conventions--the hit man becomes emotionally involved with his prey, while the victim accepts his fate with equanimity and grace. The characters are not genre stereotypes, but fully rounded individuals riddled with insecurities and doubts. Besides having a superb screenplay, Frears is blessed, here, with an unparalleled cast. Both Hurt and Stamp are as good as they've ever been, while the very young Tim Roth makes a very promising debut. Reviewed well in the US, THE HIT made very little impression at the box office.