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  • Writer's pictureKurt Loder

Fast Charlie: Pierce Brosnan back in action

Courtesy Photo Pierce Brosnan stars in Fast Charlie.

We know how this works by now. A pretty bad guy—a flinty-eyed hitman, let’s say—is offered a last chance for redemption in his dwindling years. He wants desperately to take it, but he has aggravated an awful lot of dangerous people over the course of his bloody career and, well... etc., etc.

In the first “John Wick” movie, Keanu Reeves’s retired assassin was pulled back into his old life after some mob punk shot his puppy. In David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, Viggo Mortenson’s ex-hitman, having found peace at last in rural Indiana, was tracked down by a homicidal emissary from his dark past. And in the recent David Fincher movie The Killer, Michael Fassbender’s title character wound up having to extinguish quite a few more people on his way to a happy ending.

Fast Charlie, a new film directed by Phillip Noyce (who over the course of a long career has had action hits like Dead Calm, Salt and Clear and Present Danger), leads us down this oft-trodden terrain one more time. The movie adds little that’s new to the tough-guy-salvation genre—apart from a dead raccoon and some tasty tomato sauce—but it does revolve around the always likable Pierce Brosnan, who plays the courtly but dangerous lead character, Charlie Swift. As charming a performer as he is, though, Brosnan’s presence in the picture does create a few small problems. First of all, despite his Bondian action chops, the 70-year-old actor is not entirely convincing as a career cold-blooded murderer. And the need to slot him into the story’s Gulf Coast setting—Biloxi, Mississippi, mainly, and then New Orleans—results in the sound of this lifelong Irishman having to utter things like, “Ah always thought that mah life would end lahk this...” (Actually, you get used to this, sort of—and it’s not as alarming as the moment when he fearlessly burst into song in the first ABBA movie.)

Brosnan’s suave charisma is what puts this movie over—that and his equally winning costar, Morena Baccarin, of the Deadpool pictures, a resourceful comic actor. She plays Marcie Kramer, a mob wife whose ex-husband—thanks to Charlie, in his professional capacity—is now deceased. Marcie has an unusual character quirk: She’s seriously into taxidermy, and when Charlie brings her the gift of some ring-tailed roadkill, she sets right to work obscuring the tire tracks on its furry little corpse. Charlie is smitten.

Initially, Marcie isn’t especially drawn to Charlie—he’s just another local hood, a longtime enforcer for mob boss Stan Mullen (the late James Caan in his final film performance). But she of course discovers that the man has a softer side, too—and a long-delayed dream of moving to Italy, where he was stationed in the military (and picked up some impressive culinary skills). He’s thinking Tuscany, and he even has a house in mind. All he needs is someone to share it with.

Need I say more? Brosnan and Baccarin have a sweet, low-key chemistry that fends off any threat of B-movie cliche. Their warm interactions are what motor the film, so that even when its other characters aren’t getting blown away or taken out in some unpleasant manner, the love story at its center is solid enough to keep us caring. Crime-thriller fans should find this a plus.



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