Will ultimately end up as a botched job on all the resumes involved
THE VIRTUOSO (2021)
There’s something rather ironic about the fact that in the same week that Anthony Hopkins rightfully takes home the Best Actor Oscar for The Father, he follows it up with the slummiest of projects, The Virtuoso. Beneath the actor in every way possible, this pay-check gig at least lets him have some fun with incredibly archetypal dialogue. However, his on-screen minutes are few and far between, with the gravelly voiced Anson Mount taking charge in a role that he doesn’t have the gravitas nor charisma to execute.
Nick Stagliano, whose directing credits don’t exactly read as the most impressive resume - his last being the 2011 crime thriller Good Day For It (oh, you haven’t heard of it? You’re not alone) - feels far out of his depth in trying to bring any type of personality to James C. Wolf’s tepid script. Almost as if he felt that the actors he had on board (Hopkins, Mount, and Abbie Cornish being the key players) didn’t need any guidance, there’s a lack of interest on display. For a film presenting itself as a thriller heavy on “danger, deception and murder,” The Virtuoso is alarmingly sleepy.
These types of gun-for-hire centric thrillers all ultimately play out like variations of each other, but there are ways in which to change up the narrative in a manner that feels more inviting than it should. The Virtuoso fails to take advantage of its concept, leaving us as an audience scrambling for interest. The titular Virtuoso never feels like a full-formed character either, and whilst there’s possible fun to be had in the vague instructions he’s granted in order to execute his latest hit - he’s sent to a small town diner with no specifics on who he has to kill specifically - the utter lack of charm or excitement assassinates any investment we could have.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Headlined by a trio of capable actors, The Virtuoso’s only likeable draw will be its cast; even then, Anthony Hopkins is likely to be the sole selling point. In something of a more extended cameo than a starring role, the legendary actor is having fun with his cheesy dialogue and feels more in tune with the type of camp-leading personality the film should have adopted in order to be remotely enjoyable. Abbie Cornish manages to gradually extend her character from beyond the thankless waitress role she’s initially saddled with, but she feels far out of her depth with her character’s motivations, and like the titular character, never feels like a real person. As for the virtuoso himself? Whilst it’s great to see an actor like Anson Mount earn a top billing spot - the actor so often relegated to supporting roles or ensemble TV - his stoic presence here doesn’t translate to the intimidating, shadowy figure he so clearly is trying to project. As the film’s narrator, he’s saddled with atrocious, annoying dialogue too, delivering in a monotone pattern that wears thin and constantly undoes any of his physical imposition.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Though the film doesn’t go overboard on its violent effects, it settles on relative suitability in presenting its violence in a realistic fashion. There’s nothing here to make you wince, but it also doesn’t embarrass itself with overdone aesthetics.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The film very much leans into its action sensibilities with a standard, though still effective, soundtrack that evokes the moody tension the script and performances aren't always able to convey.
Likely to earn a few dollars towards its name in the wake of Hopkins’ Oscar win, The Virtuoso will ultimately end up as little more than a botched job on all the resumes involved. The very definition of a straight-to-DVD title, Stagliano’s wannabe actioner isn’t worth the hitman fee in any form of currency.
Lionsgate will release the crime thriller THE VIRTUOSO in Select Theaters and Everywhere You Rent Movies on April 30th; on Blu-ray and DVD May 4th