HIRED TO KILL (1990)

PrintE-mail Written by Paul Mount

Arrow’s new Blu-ray release of 1990’s Hired To Kill, from schlocky Greek director Nico Mastorakis, comes in a nice box with a slick mustardy-hued artwork cover which, with its preponderance of helicopters, explosions, and bikini-clad lovelies makes the film look an undiscovered Bond classic. Interviewed in one of the 2-disc set’s special features, Mastorakis is talking about his film’s star – ‘actor’ Brian Thompson – and he briefly forgets his name; Thompson is married to his daughter and is the father of Mastorakis’ grandchildren. It’s an anecdote which provides blessed relief from the purgatory of watching this jaw-droppingly inept and witless film and in many ways made the whole tortuous experience – much of which was spent hiding behind a cushion cringing at the lousy script and far worse acting – very nearly tolerable.

Our hunky hero, mercenary Frank Ryan (Thompson) is lounging about in his pants on his boat and – just to prove his credentials as a real man -  he whips out his pistol (oo-er) and shoots his alarm clock when it has the temerity to... well, sound its alarm. Stupid alarm clock. You don’t mess with Frank Ryan. Ryan is recruited to infiltrate the island stronghold of a tyrannical South American despot (played by Oliver Reed who, by this point in his career, had become transformed entirely into alcohol) and free a rebel leader (José Ferrer, who has the good grace to look utterly baffled in the handful of scenes he appears). The obvious way to achieve these aims, of course, is for Ryan to pose as a gay photographer working with a posse of ass-kicking supermodels (in reality – or what passes for the film’s reality – tough old ex-flames of Ryan’s or else jailbirds looking for a spot of redemption). At one point, perhaps to convince Reed’s off-his-face Michael Bartos that he really is a gay photographer and not a tough-as-old-boots mercenary, Ryan and Bartos lock lips in perhaps the most passionless kiss in the history of cinema. Later on Ryan gets it on with a lady to the accompaniment of some magnificently-inappropriate panpipe music.

Hired to Kill is an absolute, horrendous mess. The script is woeful, the acting pretty much uniformly appalling. Thompson really hasn’t a clue; his eyes are dead and his face, which looks as if his mouth has been stuffed with tennis balls, brings a new meaning to the word  vacant. He’s truly an odd-looking fellow. But worst of all, Hired to Kill is just so damned boring. Pitched as an action movie it’s worryingly dialogue-heavy – and when the dialogue is of the quality on display here, then clearly no-one’s in for a good time. The film sputters into life in its last few minutes when there’s a gun battle for reasons which we’ve temporarily forgotten and the finale, with Reed aimlessly firing his rifle at a departing helicopter, is enlivened by the fact that Reed was apparently openly urinating whilst the scene was being filmed. As critiques go, that’s a tough one to beat so we won’t even try.

Extras: Booklet, 4K restoration / Commentary / director interview / Brian Thompson interview / trailer / stills gallery.

HIRED TO KILL (1990) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: NICO MASTORAKIS / SCREENPLAY: NICO MASTERORAKIS, FRED C PERRY, KIRK ELLIS / STARRING: GEORGE KENNEDY, BRIAN THOMPSON, OLIVER REED / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW


 

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