Directed by: Donna Robinson
Starring: Michelle Hicks, Eva Carradine, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Orlando Jones, Sarah Sahi, Raffaello Degrutolla, Tony Shalhoub
Beatle is an attractive woman who drives a tow-truck and also hires herself out as an assassin. One night she comes to the aid of a suicidal woman called Athena, who hires Beatle to kill her in exchange for the proceeds from her life insurance. While the two hang out, waiting for the insurance company to make Beatle the beneficiary, Athena's previous employer, the crime lordKyle Sullivan, has sent a hitman called Bruce after the two of them. Meanwhile a detective is also on their tail...
Guns for hire has a strong cast and a couple of really good scenes but is lumbered with an awkward framing device and a slow moving plot.
The bulk of the film is set in the past, the story being relayed between Detective Holt (Degrutolla) and Beatle (Hicks) in the present. Holt is trying to convince Beatle to confess to a murder, however Beatle is pretty sure of herself and knows that its best to keep her answers short or non-existent. This proves to be a very clunky framing device as a lot of the early parts of the story relate to Athena's misadventures before she meets Beatle - information it would be impossible for Holt to be aware of, and Beatle wouldn't be volunteering such info. There were a number of such situations throughout the film where I found myself wondering why the film had taken this particular route to tell its story - there are much more straightforward methods, afterall - however it does become clear why right at the end.
There are some interesting character scenes throughout - Beatle is a person who has shut out all human interaction except with her psychiatrist (Orlando Jones) and Carla (Shahi), a stripper/escort whom she hires for a weekly tryst. Having Athena in her life makes things complicated, and she starts to feel vulnerable and her protective barriers threatened by her closeness.
The film's standout scene is also its nastiest, when Bruce abducts and tortures Carla. This is quite a drawn out and very tense scene in which Bruce burns her with acid. Its a horrific scene made compelling by the brilliant acting of Shahi and the menacing calm of Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
The film does take some interesting turns towards the end - a challenge to Beatle's assassin credentials being a good one - and the ending turns everything on its head - but I'm not convinced it works, exactly as the film doesn't seed any clues as to the truth, it just delivers it cold right at the end.
Despite its hardboiled title, this is an overly talky affair and more psychological than action-driven. Sarah Shahi has the best scene (and worst situation!), and there are some interesting developments in the plot, but whether it works as a whole is debateable.
6 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)