MOVIE MADNESS #99: THE HIT LIST

So what did Cuba Gooding Jr. do after his comedic career went belly up? He turned to action films, who knew? The man is a Hollywood survivor.

Dating back to 2008, Cuba has been on a steady stream of action films starting with “Hero Wanted” with Ray Liotta.

The Oscar winner had flirted with action films with films like “Shadowboxer”, “Dirty” and “End Game” but since 2008 he’s been making them straight teaming with stars like Val Kilmer, Christian Slater and Dolph Lundgren.

It is almost like Cuba has picked up where Wesley Snipes left off when he went to prison for tax evasion. “The Hit List” is smack dab in the middle of Cuba’s action streak.

The film finds Cole Hauser as a disgruntled engineer who wakes up one morning after an all-night bender only to find out that all the people he dissed the night before are now marked for assassination. His wife, his boss, the man his wife is sleeping with, the guy who was promoted over Hauser, etc. The assassin: Cuba Gooding Jr. (Can I get a “Show me the money!”)

The moral of this story be careful who you get drunk with. Anyway, now Hauser has to run around and try to stop Cuba from finishing his “hit list”.

This entry in Cuba’s action resume comes from the brothers team of Chad & Evan Law, the brainiacs behind Cuba’s first action film “Hero Wanted” , his teaming with Dolph Lundgren in “One in the Chamber” and Jean Claude Van Damme’s “6 Bullets”. The film is directed by William Kaufman who directed “One in the Chamber” with as well.

The movie starts with a really needless scene of Cuba waking up and a whole bunch of executives taking about how he is a rogue agent. Then launches into a makeshift James Bond credit sequence. WTF? Was it part of Cuba’s contract to be shown first? Six minutes in and the plot hasn’t even begun. Majorly sloppy.

The bar scene is pretty well done. I liked Cuba and Hauser playing off each other. Hauser thinking the whole thing is a joke as he downs a bottle of Jack Daniels and Cuba doesn’t even have a sip. Cuba’s line about “If this was a joke, would it be funny?” is really interesting and accents the scene perfectly. It is the best scene in the picture.

Why not start the film with that scene then do your title card? Do we really need to actually see how bad Hauser’s life really is?

The shot right after this shows Weirick looking at the back of the photo.

The premise is what sells this movie but just so many of the other pieces just don’t support the interesting premise. The direction is very flat, there are some sloppy edits and some really funny blocking goofs. Like the actress playing Hauser’s wife (Ginny Weirick) is looking at a picture from the security cam footage except she is looking at the back of the photo then the photo magically disappears. The car chase sequence is incredibly sloppy as there are quick cuts from a car speeding down a street and then to a closeup of Cuba’s face smirking. This is all amateur hour.

Cuba’s portrayal of the hitman has been carved into even the way he walks. This is a desperate man at the end of his rope and Cuba plays it as such. It isn’t a great performance but neither is the film. Cuba is the best thing in it.

I never believed that Hauser was as helpless as they want you to believe. I think it was just miscasting. Hauser doesn’t make a very good victim. You needed a more sheepish actor.

LaPaglia’s cop is the best thing about that side of the film but really the actor has been doing that role for years.

1.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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