Length: 93 minutes
Director: John Dahl (Rounders; Red Rock West)
Writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Life and Death of Peter Sellers)
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Luke Wilson, Tea Leoni, Bill Pullman, Dennis Farina, Philip Baker Hall
The story of the jaded hitman who is having a midlife crisis has all ready been played into the ground (Grosse Pointe Blank; The Matador). That’s why only someone like John Dahl could still make a movie about it. Dahl and his brother Rick were the next Coen Brothers in the mid-nineties after “Red Rock West” and “The Last Seduction” made the leap from made for cable to the theaters. Then the hype died down and John Dahl has made a steady, if unspectacular, career for himself since (“Rounders” being the most notable). “Red Rock” and “Seduction” both shared worn down crime noir plots, but Dahl made them both seem refreshingly new again. While his latest film, “You Kill Me”, isn’t in the same league as either of those, it’s still an enjoyable comedy. Ben Kingsley is the hitman with the midlife crisis, only he’s too drunk to realize he’s having one. After he screws up a crucial job, his boss (Philip Baker Hall) sends him to detox in San Francisco. He starts to learn how to enjoy life again after he gets a girlfriend (Tea Leoni) and a new friend in a fellow AA member (Luke Wilson). There’s some action scenes inserted for good measure, but “You Kill Me” is really and truly a character study and Kingsley is in top form. He’s as good as Daniel Day-Lewis when it comes to transforming himself for a role (see “Sexy Beast” for example). Luke Wilson and Bill Pullman are also funny in supporting roles- both reminding everybody that they can still act even if they’ve been in some duds recently. Leoni, as always, is the sore spot. Her lack of flare and comic timing brings down what would have been a great role. It’s a tricky thing to make something old seem new again. Kudos to John Dahl for pulling it off again.
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