John Cusack in one of his finest and career defining roles. Martin Blank is a professional killer, a fact he never actually hides from anyone, yet people think it is so outlandish they don’t believe him.
Martin is getting tired of the hitman business, particularly after one botched kill that was meant to look like natural causes ended up with multiple bullets in the chest, he is forced to do one more to make up for that mistake. Fellow hitman, Dan Aykroyd, is pushing Martin to join forces with him so they can form some sort of hitman guild.
Martin’s assistance, played by sister Joan Cusack, has discovered there is a 10 year reunion at his high school in Grosse Pointe but he isn’t for going, as a reunion for him is just to see how people have swelled. Besides he has one or two skeletons in that closet that he feels better not facing, number one being his high school sweet heart Debi (Minnie Driver) who he left waiting on her prom night.
When the details of the retribution hit comes in, by lucky happenstance, it is in Grosse Pointe. Maybe he can go to the reunion after all.
The movie centers around Martin going back into the community he abandoned 10 years ago with nay a goodbye or explanation. Bumping into school friends, trying to make up with Debi (who is now a local radio celebrity) and of course dodging the various other hit men (and NSA agents who Dan Aykroyd has had Martin setup) that have come into the area to take the contract from him.
The humor in this movie is all about the dialogue and subtle references to his current profession while most have no clue he is telling the truth.
Dr. Oatman, please pick up, pick up! It’s Martin Blank! I, I’m standing where my, uh, living room was and it’s not here because my house is gone and it’s an Ultimart! You can never go home again, Oatman… but I guess you can shop there.
The movie has a wonderful 1980s soundtrack with classic 80s tunes framing each scene to keep reminding us that Martin is discovering these people and places after 10 years absent.
A thousand innocent people get killed every day! But a millionaire’s pet gets detonated, and you’re marked for life.
Another small amusing part of this movie, watching it nearly 20 years after it was made, is a reminder just how big technology was in the mid 90s. Huge monitors, big laptops that were literally inches thick and a huge (not retro) clam Motorola mobile phone.
I am not going to give away any more of the plot here or the climatic ending scene as it should be discovered fresh for yourself.
I don’t think John Cusack has ever topped this movie, even though his War Inc. was a sort of unofficial unconnected follow up to this. Every list featuring his top movies, this one is never too far from the top, depending on the compiler of said list at the time.
Always worth revisiting from time to time.
Saturday, 29th August 2015