Sunday, October 5, 2008


The Crown International Pictures release "The Silencer"(** out of ****) is a superficial shoot'em up about a couple of top-secret assassins. Originally, this tame thriller appeared as a full-frame Rhino DVD, but Brentwood has resurrected it along with other Crown releases and packaged it in a two-disc collection "Maximum Action" in a widescreen format, even though some of the credits are cropped. The lack of either subtitles or closed captions will force conscientious audiences to strain their ears to catch some of the mumbled, virtually inaudible dialogue.

This exercise in B-movie mayhem concerns a seductive, scantily-clad in black leather female assassin—previously a 'lost soul herself'—who performs untraceable executions for an anonymous extra-legal organization. She finds herself drawn back into the fold because she doesn't have the discipline to quit. She suffers a similar problem with her use of tobacco products. She wants to quit but she cannot kick the habit because she is hooked. Initially, before she turned her back on the business, Angelica worked in tandem with her partner/lover George. The mysterious organization that they worked for ranked them as the cream of the crop where killing without a conscience was required. Angelica left the organization because of George (Chris Mulkey of "Cloverfield") who abused her and kept her chained to a radiator because he wanted her all to himself.

As "The Silencer" unfolds, Angelica (Lynette Walden of "Benny & Joon") comes back for five hits and succeeds at killing her quarry where men have failed because she wields her sexy body as a weapon. The primitive title sequence video game graphics, which recur throughout the film and serve as a means to brief Angelica about her targets, leave a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, like all video game graphics from yesteryear, these graphics really date this marginal thriller that not surprisingly relies heavily on sexual metaphors.

Aside from the tacky video game graphics, "The Silencer" boasts a modest enough budget, above-average photography, and a drop-dead gorgeous babe as its heroine. Walden isn't a bad actress. She does everything according to the Spencer Tracy School of acting; she delivers her lines without error and stumble into the furniture. On the other hand, Walden plays a character whose depth is only skin-deep; nothing in the way of a backstory aside from the abusive relationship that she had with a lovesick George who desperately wants her back distinguishes her doomed character.

Angelica masquerades as a blond in a white dress in the first action sequence and guns down a guy at a factory—no name for the factory or description of its output is furnished—and then escapes without a trace while the police cordon off the area. As Angelica is making her getaway in her skimpy black outfit, she catches a young hunk of a thief, Drew (Jaime Gomez of "American Me"), trying to boost her motorcycle. When a black patrolman (Ava Dupree) questions them about suspicious blonds in the area, Angelica behaves as if the thief were her boyfriend to throw the cops off her scent. The erotic sex scene in the bathtub at her apartment with the dude she picked up at the murder scene and brought home will have guys panting just to see the statuesque starlet strip naked and display her spectacular assets. This occurs ten minutes in the film and guys will probably want to hang around for more such scenes but there aren't any as slippery and soapy as this one. The nudity here is confined to frontal about the belly button variety with a nice shot of her hindquarters.

Angelica isn't a passive, laid-back female. She is very active. She seduces guys on her own terms and sometimes buys them clothing. Although she made bareback love to Drew in the bathtub, she backs out of her first liaison with Tony (Paul Ganus) because a jammed condom machine won't dispense a rubber. Later, when she accompanies Tony to his place, she finds a condom. The package says 'no glove, no love,' squarely placing "The Silencer" in with those message movies about safe sex. Angelica would qualify as an unsympathetic character were it not for her relationship with Didi (Brook Susan Parker of "Strange Days"), a poor, homeless girl that perverts and rogue cops abuse. Angelica buys Didi some new duds and sets her up with a mechanic to clean his garage.

Angelica guns down tough girl Barbie Rogers who kidnaps children for hardcore pornos. Our heroine dresses like a guy with stick-on mustache and blasts Barbie while they are shooting side-by-sick at an indoor shooting range. She kills a white pimp (Morton Downey, Jr.) and makes it look like an accident.

Repeatedly, George acts like her guardian angel and shows up after the fact at our heroine's killings. George is terminally jealous and kills anybody with whom Angelica has a relationship. Ultimately, Angelica refuses to take George back. At one point, she pours several shots into him and sends him plunging backwards into a pond. Luckily, he had the foresight to wear a bulletproof vest. Chalk up another cliché!

Writer & director Amy Goldstein and co-scribe Scott Kraft provide us with just another contrived potboiler about pistoleros with neither surprises nor suspense. Essentially, "The Silencer" aspires to be another "Le Femme Nitika," but it falls far short of the mark. Daniel Berkowitz, however, deserves praise for his color photography; Berkowitz displays a knack for lighting a scene and giving it depth. The nocturnal exterior scenes around the bridge when George saves Angelica's bacon with a high-powered rifle look extremely professional. Indeed, the entire movie—aside from the cruddy video sequences—has a gloss to it, and you keep watching "The Silencer" because you hope that the dog-eared storyline flat characters will eventually deliver the same way that the cinematography does. Alas, it doesn't and Goldstein never manages to create any sense of momentum.

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