Friday, July 30, 2021

Hits and contract killing


The following from the August 2, 2021 issue of the New Yorker, page 8, written by Richard Brody:

"Film Forum's ongoing Humphrey Bogart series includes the idiosyncratic 1951 film noir The Enforcer (which is also streaming on many services). . . the movies originality is in its script which gives Bogart the role of a district attorney named Ferguson who -- hours before Mendoza (Everett Sloan), the head of a murder ring, is set to be released without charges -- searches his investigation files for overlooked evidence.  As Ferguson's interrogations of garish underworld characters are shown in flashbacks, the action that they relate is seen in flashbacks within those flashbacks.  The intricate structure lays bare a tentacular network of killers for hire whose members are driven literally mad with fear of Mendoza, but the movie's frenzied psychology is also historically fascinating: Mendoza's chilling and cunning criminal enterprise is presented as an innovation -- as are the terms 'contract' for killing and 'hit' for a victim."

I'd like to read a more extensive discussion of these matters.  It seems we have an assassin genre within the film noir genre nowadays -- maybe the term "film noir" needs to be abandoned.   Just last night I watched Ava.  Simon (Colin Farrell) is the current "head of a murder ring."  The previous head, Duke (John Malkovich) in a subordinate role runs the assassin Ava (Jessica Chastain). 

Ava's "sin" is that she questions the people she is about to assassinate about what they did that elicited someone to order a hit.  This sin is unforgivable and Simon orders "hits" on Ava, but they don't succeed.  Finally he attempts to kill her himself and is instead killed by her.  The ending suggests that there may be a hierarchy above Simon.  As Ava in the last scene walks away to go into hiding, Simon's daughter, an assassin in training follows her."

The acting in Ava struck me as excellent.  I did initially question whether the 5' 4" fragile looking Jessica Chastain could pull it off, but she does.  Collin Farrell 5' 10" but in their fight scene they seem comparable somehow. 

Despite being an alcoholic and drunk when Simon enters her apartment, Ava manages to fight him to a draw.  His phone rings to alert him that the police are on their way, so he doesn't resume the fight.  He merely tells Ava that if he ever sees her again he will kill her.  Ava however, knows better than that so she assembles her gear in a matter of seconds and hurry's after Simon.  His gun was dismantled during his fight so he is unarmed.  She catches up to him and shoots him in the head. 

Even though at the end when Simon's daughter follows Ava, one doesn't (at least I didn't) assume that she will be successful in killing Ava, if that is what she intends to try to try.  Ava has conducted 41 successful contract hits and Simon's daughter has yet to conduct her first . . .

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