Review by Dan Skip Allen
The title of this film might be a bit misleading. At first glance, you'd think it's a film about a musician or composer, but it's not. It's a film about a hitman who narrates his own story. I guess he's so good at what he does he's considered a virtuoso.
Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels) plays a hitman who narrates his own story. He doesn't talk much except when he's narrating the film. He's a reserved man who keeps to himself in his excluded house in the middle of the woods with his dog. That is until he gets a job to do from his handler, (Anthony Hopkins). Then he goes to work.
The cast is filled out with some famous character actors besides the lead actor. Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch) plays a waitress, David Morse (Disturbia) plays a local deputy sheriff, Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes) plays a mysterious loner, and Richard Brake (Mandy) plays the handsome man at a poker game. All of these characters are at a diner in a small town adjacent to a motel. All of these men and women keep the viewer guessing about their characters' motivations throughout the film
This film has a subtle and quiet tone to it like the lead character played by Mount. It lets the viewer see what's going on but only narrated by Mount himself. It's a mysterious film, keeping everyone in the dark until the very end when everything the director and writer want to come to light unfolds before your eyes. Keeping everyone in the dark doesn't benefit the story though — it muddled it a bit.
The main character uses a phrase of collateral damage a few times. He feels this is his undoing at times. He likes things to be clean and concise. When collateral damage happens, it changes the variable he's working with. This may come back to haunt him in the end. Leave no loose ends is his motto and collateral damage isn't that.
The film is mostly shot at night in a small town at a little motel. It has good lighting and camera work, all things considered. The score seems like it's out of any other mystery/thriller film, not to be overdone but effective in creating a spooky atmosphere. The film has some good editing as well, cutting back and forth between all of these characters within the film.
Mount has been a leading man for a little while now. He played a mysterious loner before in Hell on Wheels, the Western show on AMC and Black Bolt on the defunct ABC show about Marvel's Inhumans. He currently stars as Christopher Pike on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. He made a career from playing these cold loners on television and now movies. It seems to be his thing. He's perfect at playing these types of characters. They fit him as an actor.
Lionsgate has made money on these types of films before, with the John Wick franchise banking for them and still going. The difference between this film and those is the characters are more interesting and the films were shot a lot better overall. The mystery aspect of this film was interesting though. I would have liked to see the characters fleshed out more in this film.
Overall The Virtuoso was an engaging film but lacked the extra punch of a John Wick, or John Rambo, or even John McClain for that matter. Anson Mount might be good as a loner on television, but he can't carry a full-length film without this very good cast of character actor and now two-time Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins. I would have liked to see this world fleshed out more, but alas, I don't think that'll happen.
The Virtuoso hits theaters and VOD on April 30.