It was when Michael Dudikoff‘s hitman with a heart of gold character broke out the model buildings and trees, announced it was Dealey Plaza and started droning on about the difference between a meat shot and a head shot, that I knew we were in the presence of probably the greatest assassin teacher in the world.
By the time he got done handing out the binder to his apprentice detailing all the ways to kill someone, the on the job training that saw him using paintballs to try and teach the undercover FBI agent to be a decent sniper and the two rules he lived by (target should never suffer, don’t kill innocent bystanders), I felt like I was ready to go out and start whacking marks myself.
Of course that could have just been a reaction to a movie that was so ordinary in its suckiness, that the Dude’s world weariness he gives his character might have just been the Dude’s real life reaction to having to shuffle through such bland Canadian drivel.
The Dude’s glum presence is the only one you’ll likely recognize and the only one that approaches anything that qualifies as movie-quality (which is odd since the Dude’s main assets are usually his laid back attitude about whatever action nonsense is transpiring and his hair) in a film where characters you don’t care about drone on about conspiracies, cover ups, and the Bureau.
If you go into The Silencer thinking that the Dude is out there killing folks, kicking ass, and delivering stinging witticisms as he dispatches some thugs, you’ll be a bit surprised when you see the Dude show up at a school to give his teacher girlfriend an apple and then mope around about how sad he is that he’s the best hired killer in the world. (His doormat girlfriend doesn’t even know where he lives, let alone what his “job” is.)
Jason Wells is a young FBI agent whose superior picks him to go deep undercover in an effort to infiltrate a right wing extremist group called The Group. It has to be done off the books because there’s a mole who’s leaking information to The Group. If you are over five years of age, you instantly know exactly who is the mole. Since Jason is a highly trained law enforcement official, he has no clue.
Besides, he’s still all torn up about how his dad killed himself after it was revealed his dad might be a corrupt agent. Again, anyone in kindergarten could figure out that daddy didn’t really kill himself and that we just might know who did kill him (despite the absurd coincidence it would be).
The Group’s next big target is a senator running for president. But what does the senator know that makes him such a threat? And why did the Dude kill the first guy in the movie and how is that connected?
Luckily, there’s an aid to the senator who explains everything in painfully convoluted detail to Jason later on in the film and if you’re a slow learner, Jason’s boss goes into even more excruciating detail (for the wire that Jason is secretly wearing – what a lucky break!), but it all boils down to the boss being obsessed with J. Edgar Hoover. He even argues with a picture of Hoover and throws a glass at it!
If the whole business of The Group and its vague anti-government agenda (What do they want? Power!) makes you wonder how smart the Dude’s assassin really is, it’s his interaction with the undercover “Jason the hitman from Cleveland” that makes you really wonder if he hasn’t taken a few meat shots to his brain during his career.
Jason’s idea of being undercover is to acquire long greasy hair, scuzzy facial hair and a shirt so ugly that even the Dude comments on it. He also talks about what a bad ass he is, but whenever the Dude tries to train the guy in the art of killing and sniping, Jason is singularly incompetent. It seems a bit silly then, that the Dude wouldn’t really wonder what’s up with this guy, when he clearly isn’t a trained killer.
In fact Jason is so inept, he accidentally uses the Dude’s hitman’s real name, Quinn, even though the Dude never told him his name! Crud, I understand that the evil guys at the Bureau are sending Jason out to be a patsy for their dopey scheme, but the patsy has to be smart and convincing enough to survive to the day of the shooting! Even Lee Harvey Oswald, who was such a terrible shot, his marine comrades nicknamed him “shitbird” managed to play the patsy during America’s coup d’etat back in ’63!
But guess what? Shitbird Oswald didn’t have the benefit of Umbrella Man having an attack of conscience and helping him out like the Dude did with Jason! So it is that the Dude helps break Jason out of jail and has his back during the showdown with the conspirators at the old abandoned factory, the city leaves up for just such meetings/shootouts.
And by the time the Dude mysteriously vanishes after taking several bullets in the back for Jason, we’re just waiting for one of the Dude’s trademark snow globes to arrive anonymously in the mall to cryptically announce he is in fact ok and living out his dream as retired hitman in Argentina!
If the Dude was Superman, I would be tempted to think that he sent one of his Dudebot mechanical doubles in his place to handle this movie. And I would totally understand if he did! He doesn’t do much more than bring a familiar presence to things and isn’t asked to do any action scenes.
Not that there was any such scenes in the movie anyway. There was a car that blew up and a couple of people got shot, but most of the Dude’s activity was relegated to tossing a few tear gas canisters, looking through binoculars, talking on the phone, complaining about how crappy an assassin Jason is and having flashbacks that showed how haunted he was by being a killer.
Cheap cruddy background music and a TV movie feel round out things here and it makes you wish that the Dude had rule against appearing in films that are the video equivalent of a viewer killshot.
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