Embark on a short and rugged journey into the world of “Fast Charlie,” a tale of an aging hitman portrayed by Pierce Brosnan, directed by Phillip Noyce. This cinematic narrative unfolds as Brosnan’s character, “Fast” Charlie Swift, grapples with the realization that it’s time to exit the dangerous game of contract killing or face a perilous demise. Adapted from Victor Gischler’s novel “Gun Monkeys,” the film navigates familiar tropes with a peculiar charm that sets it apart from the commonplace.
Set in the murky depths of the criminal underworld, the movie delves into the Southern-fried thriller genre, where the characters, akin to Elmore Leonard rejects, find themselves trapped in a seemingly inescapable purgatory. In this chaotic backdrop, everyone talks about leaving, yet nobody manages to break free, especially while they still draw breath.
Brosnan’s character, Charlie, introduces the audience to his world with an obligatory hitman voiceover, sharing his resigned perspective on life as he faces a gunpoint predicament in an abandoned car lot. The film then unfolds as a flashback, gradually leading up to this pivotal moment, weaving a narrative that unexpectedly captivates viewers with its emotional depth.
What distinguishes “Fast Charlie” from the usual fare is its embrace of ultra-familiar tropes as a defining feature rather than dismissing them as clichés. Noyce’s film uses these tropes as the language of a Southern thriller, creating a unique atmosphere where the well-weathered story becomes oddly charming.
The movie introduces a host of characters who long ago abandoned dreams of escape, opting instead to engage in turf wars and power struggles within their confined realm. Brosnan’s character, a lonely hitman named Charlie, is portrayed with a disaffected yet magnetic energy, adding a layer of authenticity to the narrative. His musings on life and the pit of vipers he perceives the world to be provide a glimpse into his isolated existence.
While the screenplay by Richard Wenk follows the familiar beats of a mob story with turf wars, the central conflict revolves around a hitman caught in the crossfire. Brosnan’s performance resonates with a “take it or leave it” vibe, urging viewers to focus on the bigger picture and embrace the film’s overarching themes.
The unexpected Mississippi accent emanating from Brosnan’s character adds another layer of intrigue, creating an eccentric yet appealing aspect to the movie. Despite the film going through the motions of a standard mob story, the conflict between Beggar and Stan Mullen serves as a blood-soaked backdrop for Charlie’s journey.
The movie takes an unexpected turn when Charlie develops feelings for Marcie Kramer (Morena Baccarin), a taxidermist recently widowed by the actions of Charlie’s new partner. The ensuing complications and the threat to Charlie’s life add depth to the narrative, making it more than a conventional hitman story.
“Fast Charlie” unfolds as a patchwork of murders strung together against the backdrop of a bluesy score. The film leans on its moment-by-moment pleasures, with each murder contributing to Charlie’s pursuit of the elusive Beggar. The thin connective tissue between targets doesn’t detract from the film’s enjoyment, as it revels in its distinct moments of humor and action.
Notable performances, including Sharon Gless as the sewer-mouthed Mavis, inject a comedic flair into the heightened characters populating the story. The cinematography by Warwick Thornton captures the unique flavors of Biloxi and New Orleans, providing a rich and cohesive backdrop for the narrative.
At the heart of “Fast Charlie” is the will-they-won’t-they romance between Brosnan and Baccarin, a dynamic that transcends the typical tropes of sexual tension. Both actors bring authenticity to their characters, portraying a palpable sense of intimacy rooted in self-recognition rather than predictable attraction. The film’s breezy 90-minute runtime is sustained by this magnetic dynamic, making “Fast Charlie” an unexpectedly charming and engaging cinematic experience.