The business of being a hired gun demands precision and dedication. Above all, it demands a total lack of emotions. The term cold-blooded business requires you to have no feelings whatsoever. Neither for the targets nor for the collateral damage associated with it. But what if the assassin develops feelings of guilt, sympathy, or remorse? The Virtuoso thematically explores the question. A hitman who is shaken by his own actions.
‘The Virtuoso’ Summary
The Virtuoso (Anson Mount) is a hitman who works for ex-army personnel, The Mentor (Anthony Hopkins). The mentor assigns him tasks for which the virtuoso is paid handsomely. All the dealings are done through postal mail and a secretive phone call between the hitman and the mentor. The whole operation is kept secretive and executed in the most professional way. Virtuoso is sent a paper chit with the name of the target along with his location and time. Virtuoso’s job is to carry out the demands of the client, which is, mostly to end the subject.
The mentor hands over an emergency mission to the Virtuoso where he has to kill a CEO of a local authority who had been let go by the judge. The operation needs to be executed in less than 48 hours and the client demands that his death should look like an accident. The Virtuoso mostly takes a long time to plan such visits but in this case, he isn’t offered. In haste, he screws the mission causing collateral damage to a woman, who burns and dies on the road along with his target. The Virtuoso is unable to erase the visual and the screams of the child are still loud and audible in his ears.
When later, The mentor meets The Virtuoso near his father’s grave, a conversation suggests that the mentor was his father’s friend. They both had been in the army and being a soldier is Virtuoso’s family business. When The Virtuoso talks about the collateral, the mentor narrates him a story to signify that there is no room for guilt or remorse in the business.
“Some of us will walk in those jungles and hear those cries of anguish and horror for all eternity.”
The mentor and The Virtuoso’s late dad are the lucky ones who never heard those cries and Virtuoso is expected to walk the same path. Basically, overcome what disturbs him and bury it as soon as he can.
The mentor assigns another job to The Virtuoso, but this time the client holds back a lot of information. He is given only a name, “White Rivers” and the location and time of the target which is 5 pm at a rustic diner in the dying town.
The Virtuoso reaches the location but finds several possible targets there. He couldn’t decode the meaning of the name, “White Rivers” and therefore looks at everyone with suspicion. His suspect list includes a man, The Loner, Handsome Johnnie, Johnnie’s Girl, The Waitress (Abbie Cornish), and the county sheriff himself.
Before the night ends, The Virtuoso has to find out the truth of “White Rivers” and quickly plug the target. But this time, the assassin takes a lot of collateral and ends up ruining his mission. This mission becomes his end.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘The Virtuoso’ Ending Explained
After his first setback mission, The Virtuoso developed the feeling of remorse. He didn’t pick up the mentor’s call and he was literally pissed off. In Virtuoso, the mentor saw a decaying soldier, a rogue who has gone soft. Therefore, he sent him after “White Rivers” which in fact was no one. The operation was designed to finish off The Virtuoso. All the possible targets, Virtuoso met at the rustic diner were assassins hired by the mentor to kill The Virtuoso.
In them, the most lethal was The Waitress who tipped off other assassins to stay away from her target. She plugs him as her own. It was the Waitress upon which the Virtuoso had the least suspicion.
After making love to the waitress, Virtuoso gets hold of her passport protruding from her purse. Here he reads her real name, Blanca Rios. Virtuoso remembers that she told him her name was “Dee” when they first met at the diner. He also remembers the small details like the blood spot on her waitress dress, and the missing letter “dee” from a label. Finally Virtuoso and the Waitress face each other where she narrates to him how she killed his targets and made other looks suspicious. She killed the diner cook and the waitress to take their spot. She waited for Virtuoso to enter the diner at the given time, which was 5 pm. At last, she tells him that the mentor wanted Virtuoso to be content and die happy. That is why she made love to him before killing him. That’s the best she can do.
Before dying, Virtuoso requests the waitress to check his car trunk. Inside the trunk, he has kept dog food for the dog who was strolling around Virtuoso’s wooden cabin. The waitress brings those bags to Virtuoso’s wood house and points the gun at the dog. But she can’t kill it and sits down on the chair thoughtfully. Symbolically, she takes Virtuoso’s place, both professionally and personally. That is what happens in the killing business, one assassin leaves a void filled by another cold-blooded hitman. Feelings will erupt because even the murderer is human at heart.
Strolling like a neo-noir drama, the film maintains its grip upon the viewers. Captivating the attention with catchy voice-over and strong performances, the film is heavily stylized. The major shortcoming is the story which is the same assassin-hitman narratives that follow or portray nothing new. Just the same old dish, served in a different utensil. Being a thriller, the “wow” or the surprising factor is missing in the end. The waitress story seems striking but much of it was predictable from the start.
The film could have been performed brilliantly with better and clever writing. But all words were focused on making the character chatter the wise words rather than using them in the narrative itself. The film fails to create a mark. The best you would remember is Anthony Hopkins’s performance for a slight moment when he narrates the story of human remorse near the Virtuoso’s father grave. Except for that scene, everything seemed too cliche.
The Virtuoso is a 2021 thriller film directed by Nick Stagliano. The film is available for Video on Demand.
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