There's a recognisable storyline at the centre of Interview With A Hitman, but luckily first time director Perry Bhandel and leading actor Luke Goss rescue the film from the brink of clichéd familiarity with a taut script and some incredibly slick visuals.
The story is told in the form of a long flashback via the medium of an interview. Victor (Goss) plays the titular hitman and is keen to get out the game, the interview acts as a sort of therapy for him as he confronts some of the more troubling memories of his past. Beginning with young Victor growing up on a council estate in Romania where violence and gangs are a way of life, Victor is raised and trained by the same people who killed his father. Victor grows up to be a ruthless and deadly assassin, fleeing his home country when things go bad he arrives in London hoping to start a new life but soon the past catches up with him!
There was a very possible danger of this film falling into cheesy wannabe gangster film territory, especially from a first time director and the star of Death Race 2, but IWAH has a real independent film quality, subtle and restrained with some genuinely dark themes that underpin the narrative. First off, Luke Goss gives a brilliant performance as the hitman. As a former pop sensation as one half of Bros turned actor Luke Goss has done pretty well for himself having carved out a successful career in Hollywood, even taking over the Death Race franchise from Jason Statham becoming a leading man in his own right (Death Race 3 is on its way if anyone was interested!). But this is very much Goss returning to his roots, to a small scale film shot in and around Newcastle.
Goss gives a scarily realistic performance as an assassin, who plays his role with such emotional detachment, it seems like he's really tapped into the mindset of a person who has to kill people for a living. This is partly emphasised by the fact he barely has any dialogue for the first 25-30 minutes or so in the movie, a bold decision yet non dialogue is always far more powerful and revealing of a character than having lots of dialogue. Goss has the added bonus of even looking like a hitman, the bald head and the piercing blue eyes, there's a real sense of plausibility that this guy really is a killer.
Perry Bhandel the director of the film has also had an interesting ride in terms of his career, having planned to be a filmmaker for the most part of his life he had to give up his dreams due to personal matters but returned to filmmaking 3 years ago. Out of the ashes, Bhandel emerged with a feature script and in a short space of time, Interview With A Hitman was up and running!
The film is assured and competent in terms of its direction and a confident debut film from Bahndel. Visually its very raw and stripped back film, incorporating good use of hand held camera work and realistic fight scenes which just elevates the film into fresh territory, there's nothing silly or cartoonish about it.
Although an accomplished piece of work, I do feel however I probably wouldn't want to watch the film again all too soon which I fear may be a downside to the movie, there's nothing that would make you come back again and again. Watching it once, it's a film that does some interesting things and there's a nice twist to the tale but because I think the film is such a slow burner I won't be seeing it again for a while. The fact that the movie has a stripped back, visceral quality to it is both a positive and a negative, on the one hand it's brave filmmaking but on the other, it may just dip its toe into the water of being slightly cumbersome and boring.
The poster for the movie as well as the trailer, which is very gun and action heavy could easily lead you into thinking the film is a guns 'n' explosions type action film but that couldn't be further from the truth, the film is more of a character study about this guy and the way he lives his life and conducts his business which personally I find more interesting but if the film is to get its theatrical release, audiences may need more of a nudge.
Interview With A Hitman is a slick, accomplished movie from first time director Perry Bahndel, and based on the film one could easily see him stewarding a big budget Hollywood feature. As a return to British cinema, Goss has made a decent choice with IWAH and really lends some star power to the movie. I recommend people seek it out and watch the film, but you may not fancy a repeat viewing.