There are those of us who peruse the direct-to-video bins of action and horror movies in a desparate search of fun. THE BIG HIT, although released theatrically, is everything that you desire while looking at direct-to-video crap, but never get, and its infinitly better.
Make no mistakes: this movie is vulgar, crass, and shameless. It even crossed my line with the vomiting scene, but I managed. The film finds hit man Melvin Smiley set up to take the fall for a major screw-up by his hipster co-workers whilst dealing with being a pushover to his fiancee and girlfriend.
Maybe the fact that this film has such a plot, a plot that is relevant to the action and interesting is what makes it exciting. The characters are stimulating and provided vibrant dialogue. Through the pretty routine directing, it's Ben Ramseys script that makes the thing so fun. The action sequences are pretty by the numbers, as I've mentioned, but there are moments or rhythm and sublime carnage beneath the rest of it.
The film has a hard-hitting and pulsating score by Graeme Revell, which is also notable in its genre for its themes and concentration on doing more than making noise.
Be warned: those who do not tolerate profanity, violence, and general disregard for morals (these are hit men, after all) should not view. If you do not fall into that category, and like a bit of ultra-violence brimming with wit and style, there is a very good chance you will like this movie, and almost NO chance that you will regret seeing it.
Or like I said, it might have just been a fluke in my tastes...
Is the film flawed? Oh YEAH!! Are there ridiculous lapses in logic? You bet!! Is it fun? I think so.
I'm not quite sure how to describe this movie. It's about a likeable hitman, who kicks serious butt and racks up a huge body count, but he's the only person we care about in the movie. His co-horts are untrustworthy and (gasp!) lazy, and his two girlfriends are both horrid in their own special ways.
The movie is an action comedy...but not in the way we might expect (a la Rush Hour or its ilk). It is obvious the budget was low, so the makers of the film decided the whole tone of the film should be cheesy.
But almost everyone in the movie gets into the style of silliness, and thus a non-finicky viewer has an amusing 90 minutes. Here's one example of the ever-shifting tone: Mark Wahlberg (our likable hit man) is coming home to his fiancee (Christina Applegate...a jewish princess with an over-the-top accent and really tight pants). He is driving with a chopped up body in the trunk, and pulls into his suburban driveway...except its not his house, just one that looks exactly like all the other houses in the neighborhood. Someone yells out "Wrong house!" and Wahlberg pulls back out and into the right driveway. The scene takes about three seconds, but it's funny because it's incongruous. How many hit men live in suburbia...at least in movies?
Everyone in the movie is WAY OVER THE TOP in their performances. Lanie Kazan actually seems reserved...if that gives you an idea. Elliott Gould is totally gross and very funny. Bokeem Woodbine is amusing in the role of a thug with a fixation on masturbation. Lou Diamond Phillips is totally unlikeable as a character, but gosh darn it, he sures seems to be having fun. The whole film is a lark.
It also plays right into Mark Wahlberg's strengths. Wahlberg seems to have the "nice guy" act down very well. It's why Boogie Nights worked so well...he was just so innocent and likeable. In PERFECT STORM and THREE KINGS, it was his innocent nature that worked for him. As soon as he starts getting serious or pensive or angry...it stops working. And in FEAR, with Reese Witherspoon, he tries sinister and comes off silly. He takes the "aw shucks" nice guy attitude to the nth degree in THE BIG HIT, and we really root for him.
This is not a movie for film "criticism." It would totally fall apart under scrutiny, whether for logic, continuity or artistry. But if you're in the mood just to have a little fun, and like guns going off, and cars crashing, and a bit of satire while you're at it...you could do worse.