Hitmen (2023) Review

Twenty-five years on from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the British gangster revival is still going strong. Case in point Hitmen, the new film from writer/director Savvas D. Michael who has already made several contributions to the genre including The Bezonians, Smoking Guns, and Original Gangster.

Luke (Daniel Caltagirone, Eliminators, Outpost: Black Sun) and Lauren (Lois Brabin-Platt, Bull, Red Devil) are having marital issues. But that doesn’t mean she’s thrilled when Jackie (Max Lohan, The A List, Tonight We Die) starts hitting on her and when she mocks him, hitting her. This leads to a beating, which in turn leads to Jackie’s death.

That would be bad enough, but Jackie’s grandfather Michael (Eric Roberts, From Dusk Till Bong, 616 Wilford Lane) is a wealthy CEO with some rather shady connections. When they’re acquitted by reason of self-defense he puts a million-dollar contract on the couple. Don Salvatore Piazza (Marco Leonardi, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, The Devil’s Clock) sends his best man, The Reaper (Georges St-Pierre, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Kickboxer: Vengeance) to do the job, but things don’t go as planned.

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Determined to keep his word, Don Salvatore puts the contract on the open market, where it attracts the attention of the best hitmen and women in the business. Among them is Justin Villains (Lucas Aurelio, Shoplifters of the World, Already Gone) who, suffering from a loss of his own, decides to switch sides and protect the couple.

After setting up the story, Savvas lets Luke and Lauren fade into the background while he introduces the various killers for hire that populate Hitmen. They range from an SAS sniper gone rogue to the three daughters of a deceased mob boss. We get to see them at work and get told about them via a voiceover by Michael’s adopted son Danny (Elijah Rowen, Curfew, Vikings). We also get a more in-depth look at Justin and his relationship with his deceased wife, which makes his actions more understandable and less like a plot device.

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While the plot isn’t the most original, Hitmen does deliver a few surprises along the way, not the least of which is its emotional core. Yes, the plot’s main focus is on its cast of nasties and the mayhem they commit, but there’s more to it than that. Obviously, there are the parallel love stories, but there are also subplots involving Michael’s family, natural, adopted, and perhaps in the case of The Major (Bentley Kalu, Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway, Kill Command) acquired. That arc also extends somewhat into a look at the cost of vengeance, though that’s somewhat less of a surprise.

Caltagirone and Brabin-Platt have great chemistry and deliver performances that give the film a lot of its strength. As the film’s other major character, Aurelio also delivers a strong performance. While Eric Roberts isn’t on camera a lot, his role is more than a cameo, and he is actually part of the plot and delivers a performance rather than just talking into a phone from some remote location.

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From a technical perspective, Hitmen is equally solid with cinematographer Laura Van De Hel (Not For Broadcast, Burning Shores) delivering both the grittier side of the film’s London and Yarmouth locations along with some impressive drone shots and gaudily beautiful neon lit ones as well.

While it’s not an all out action film and St-Pierre has way too little screen time, Hitmen certainly delivers enough violence to keep viewers happy. But it also manages to work as a drama as well, bringing a depth to its story and characters that many similar films lack.

Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment will release Hitmen to select cinemas in the UK as well as on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD Platforms on June 5th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information and announcements of releases in other countries. And while you wait for it to arrive in your country, FilmTagger can suggest something similar to watch.

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