The Hit List is a little better than I had expected going in but at the same time, it is just another direct-to-video flick with a Blu-ray release that has no features and good but unremarkable video and audio transfers. If you like Cuba Gooding Jr. and/or Cole Hauser and have 90-minutes to spare on Friday or Saturday night, then you might take a chance with this one once it comes down in price.
Sony | R – 90 min. – $30.95 | May 17, 2011
Directed by: William Kaufman
Writer(s): Chad Law & Evan Law (written by)
Cast: Cuba Gooding Jr., Cole Hauser, Jonathan LaPaglia, Ginny Weirick
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
Cuba Gooding Jr. continues his long, arduous and torturous journey down the direct-to-video path. The Academy Award winner obviously has to make a living and plenty of actors have taken, and are still on, the same path (see Val Kilmer) but with rare exceptions, these types of film don’t exactly impress due to a variety of reasons. In the case of The Hit List, the concept is interesting but not for a feature-length motion picture, as it’s more suitable for an episode of “Criminal Minds” or “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”. But as it stands, somebody thought it wise to bring this to the shelves of Best Buy and Wal-Mart…
Allan Campbell (COLE HAUSER) is a simple man living a nice, if not a meek, life. When the movie begins – after a blatant rip-off of the Casino Royale opening credits which was out of place –, things are not going the best: he’s in debt to a bookie; the promotion he was counting on to pay off said debts went to his rival who stole his ideas; and coming home dejected, he finds that his wife (GINNY WELRICK) is having an affair… with his best friend who also was the best man at the wedding. So Allan goes to the roof, jumps and kills himself. End of movie.
Ok, not really. Instead, he goes to a dive bar to drink his troubles away when he meets Jonas Arbor (CUBA GOODING JR.), a government agent who has gone rogue. After an awkward start, the two become quick pals and while drinking and small talk Jonas reveals that he is a hit man. For free, Jonas gives Allan a napkin and is told to write down five names of people he would like to see killed. Thinking it was a joke Allan obliges and starts with his boss who passed him over for the promotion, then his business rival, the bookie, his best friend and finally his wife. Allan goes to use the restroom and when he returns, Jonas is gone. Allan leaves believing the encounter was all a joke. But when he comes to work the next day and learns his boss has been murdered, he knows it was anything but a joke…
Now Allan must hurry and try to stop the professional assassin before he kills everyone on his list. Unfortunately for him, Jonas is hell bent on completing the list going so far to kidnapping Allan in the process and taking him along for the ride. In the meantime, there’s also Detective McKay (JONATHAN “WE COULDN’T HIS OLDER BRO” LAPAGLIA) on the case and going after the pair as Jonas leaves a path of destruction in his wake.
The Hit List for what it is isn’t a bad movie, only one that isn’t executed entirely well. It was directed by William Kaufman who had previously helmed the crime/drama The Prodigy in ’05 and Sinners & Saints in ’10. Kaufman’s direction is pretty basic but he tells the story well enough, though. The script was by what I like to call, The Law Brothers (Chad and Evan Law). The pair had written Hero Wanted another one of Gooding Jr.’s DTV releases.
As I previously said, the idea is interesting but pretty limited in scope and would’ve made for a good episode of some CBS crime drama. Even so, I guess The Hit List is OK as a passable time waster. Cole Hauser for his part is alright in the second lead while Cuba Gooding Jr. seems to sleepwalk and/or looks bored with his role in which he looks constipated rather than dealing with a life-ending illness (yeah, he’s a dying assassin suffering from uranium poisoning).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0.5/5
All we get is a BD-Live Portal and previews for other Sony titles.
VIDEO – 4/5
The Hit List doesn’t look half bad in high-def. The 1080p HD transfer, with a 1.78 aspect ratio, isn’t the best, exactly, but still looks good with fine detail on faces and objects and even background detail levels are decent. Colors are fairly average looking neither oversaturated nor understated.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track also isn’t bad but nothing special either. Dialogue is crisp and clear but when you get into anything with depth like an explosion or gunfire, it’s all fairly flat. All in all it’s an acceptable audio transfer but nothing more.
OVERALL – 2/5
Overall, The Hit List is a little better than I had expected going in but at the same time, it is just another direct-to-video flick with a Blu-ray release that has no features and good but unremarkable video and audio transfers. If you like Cuba Gooding Jr. and/or Cole Hauser and have 90-minutes to spare on Friday or Saturday night, then you might take a chance with this one once it comes down in price; otherwise you can put this on your own hit list.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.