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The Hit

Year: 1984
Production Co: Zenith Entertainment
Director: Steven Frears
Writer: Peter Prince
Cast: Terence Stamp, John Hurt, Tim Roth, Bill Hunter, Laura del Sol, Jim Broadbent

I can only imagine I put this movie on my list because I know Stephen Frears' reputation, but it's just as likely I got it mixed up with some other crime thriller without realising.

Either way it's an odd beast. As the film opens, career crim Willie (Terence Stamp) is ratting out all his accomplices in court in return for getting off lightly. Ten years later, living an idyllic life in rural Spain, his past finally catches up with him as four hoods break into his place and bustle him off in a car to hand him to the stoic, fearsome Braddock (John Hurt).

Braddocks' style and credentials as a stone cold killer are established when the briefcase he hands the four youths as payment turns out to be a bomb that very effectively takes them out of the equation.

Along with his slightly unhinged young protege, Myron (Tim Roth, so young he looks like a teenager), they take Willie overland across Europe because there's too much heat to travel by air to deliver him to Paris for what we assume is his final retribution.

Braddock has the keys to a place in Madrid where they can rest and change cars but when they arrive, it's occupied by the owner's friend, Harry (Bill Hunter), who seems to know who Braddock is and what danger he and his buxom, trophy Spanish girlfriend Maggie (Laura Del Sol) are now in.

Braddock decrees that they're going to take Maggie with them for insurance and they're on the road again. But it turns out Willie the stoic one, apparently having long since accepted that he was living on borrowed time and using what he has left to chatter happily away in the car, either trying to genuinely befriend Braddock and Myron or just get inside their heads.

As he does so, the days on the road grow longer as they make their way towards Paris where Braddocks' boss awaits his prize, but after a rest stop at a secluded wooded area and a few more senseless killings the climax kinds of creeps up on the story and just happens. Willie has an abrupt change of heart when it seems his destiny is about to befall him, Braddock's last few actions seem completely out of character and it felt to me like scriptwriter Peter Prince just didn't know how to end the whole thing.

It's effective enough as a character study but the story veers a bit off the rails and doesn't really end up anywhere.

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