|The Hit (1984) / Stephen Frears|
The reason Stephen Frears’ The Hit is a unique film is because while it is clearly a crime-cum-assassination film, it functions with the laidback rhythm of some sorta holiday-family. A group comprised by two assassins, their victim and an unfortunate onlooker resembles a family on a road-trip. It travels through exotic lands and when faced with the diversion of overwhelming natural splendor is forced into personal introspections, discoveries of new-found affection, casual quibbles with other members, philosophy-sharing and petulant annoyance with a ‘slow’ member. Which is interesting too, because just like in a family-drama – there is a hierarchy intact -though different characters assume different familial roles throughout the film – Braddock the Hitman (John Hurt) is sometimes the patriarch of the pack, sometimes the younger brother, sometimes the lusty husband; Willie Parker the Victim (Terrence Stamp) is often times the calm matriarch, but a few times, the family deity itself. Others on the trip include the innocent bystander from an earlier murder, a Spanish femme-fatale Maggie, and Myron, the young assassin-apprentice of Braddock and his new partner. While Maggie is sometimes the rebellious young-daughter and sometimes the ‘other woman’, Myron is mostly the ‘black sheep’ of the family : the son who is a cause of incredible shame for the others in the family.
Such a rhythm is wholly original, if only because Frears’ film takes the act of assassination – which in itself, is almost always assumed to be momentary and brief (so much so that the Zapruder film informs us of the exact frame which documents the impact. Other examples : the urgency of : shots through the sniper-Scope in movies, the Lee Harry Oswald assassination, the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand) and spreads it across a duration of two-hours, for which, it becomes a political allegory, a road-movie, a power-struggle, a vacation film as well as a tourism-ad.