Fast Charlie Review

Fast Charlie
Charlie Swift (Pierce Brosnan) is an experienced hitman and fixer for Mob boss Stan (James Caan). When a rival boss decides to muscle in on Stan’s territory, Charlie seeks revenge — working with Marcie (Morena Baccarin), the ex-wife of one of Charlie’s targets.

by John Nugent |
Published on
Original Title:

Fast Charlie

Pierce Brosnan is getting in on the Liam Neeson game. Like Neeson, Brosnan is a veteran actor with a somewhat wobbly handle on accents but a good line in grimaces who is finding a second life in cheap-and-cheerful action thrillers. While Fast Charlie, Brosnan’s latest curious little B-movie, isn’t exactly straight action in the Taken mould, it does feel like — with this and his other geriaction entries like The Misfits — we have officially entered his Very-Particular-Set-Of-Skills-era.

Fast Charlie

Directed by ’90s stalwart Phillip Noyce (Clear And Present Danger, Patriot Games), there is a real throwback feel to the film, which opens with swooping helicopter shots of Mississippi and some bizarrely retro music from composer Fil Eisler. It all recalls the work of Midnight Run-era Martin Brest, evoking — if not quite emulating — a kind of muscular, character-driven thriller with a sly sense of playfulness.

In reality, the tone is all over the shop. Adapted by screenwriter Alan Wenk (The Equalizer) from the book Gun Monkeys by Victor Gischler, it is simultaneously a point-and-shoot rip-roaring revenge actioner, Brosnan battling bad guys with names like ‘Beggar’ or ‘The Freak’; a Road To Perdition-style rumination on What It Means To Be A Hitman; and a goofy sort-of-comedy with wacky supporting roles, including a rookie hitman who murders people with exploding doughnuts, plus a salty-tongued matriarch proudly showing off a new boob job who says things like, “That ain’t your property, you testicle-sucker!”

There are glimpses of something more successful here.

In among the pinballing flavours, there is Brosnan’s character, Charlie Swift, a Brosno-nonsense kind of guy. Brosnan is the brightest spot here, a port in a storm, and he brings a movie-star gravitas to proceedings; even with a few years on his face, he gives good smoulder, and two decades after hanging up his 00-status remains handy with a handgun and convincing as a deadly assassin. Even staring down the barrel of his seventies, Brosnan looks the business.

It’s just a shame, then, that few elements around him match up to his level. The film is lit like a glossy soap opera. There are painfully obvious greenscreens galore. There is a rather ill-advised almost-romance between Charlie and taxidermist Marcie (played by Morena Baccarin), who happens to be the ex-wife of someone Charlie murdered. The dialogue strongly feels like a first draft. (In one scene, Charlie excruciatingly explains that he likes Italian food because he once went to Italy.)

There are glimpses of something more successful here: James Caan’s small role as an ageing mobster, his final film appearance, lends some weight, Caan still able to summon menace, and Brosnan and Caan clearly enjoy each other’s company. But it ultimately doesn’t quite hang together, feeling all rather directionless: going nowhere, fast.

A bit of an odd one, an action-comedy throwback that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Still, it bodes well for Pierce Brosnan’s new phase as a grey-haired action star.
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