A lot of people aren’t going to have the attention span for a hired killer movie like Asher anymore because the John Wicks of the world have had their say on that kind of movie and made it more about the progressively complex fight choreography and shoot-n-boot and onto the next victim.
(Nobody with Bob Odenkirk kind of being an exception, but they were saying that it might be in the same world as John Wick, so who knows).
The John Wick flicks are great. I haven’t done a comparison, but I bet he’s killed more folks on screen than Jason has in just one-third the number of flicks. Granted that Keanu uses a pencil to skewer people in bars rather than a machete to skewer people in outhouses, but I think that John Wick could probably beat Jason and just shoot him up into little Jason niblets and then feed them to his dog.
But after Keanu did the first one, they started taking even more pages out of the Raid flicks for the fight choreography and then the Crank flicks, making him more into Wile E. Coyote instead of focusing on the guy himself who we really felt bad for because he lost his wife and then the dog his wife gave him.
And that’s a shame because one of the things that gave the first flick depth was that even a guy who’s been a stylish terminator all his life has feelings and likes dogs.
Speaking of feelings, let’s get to this week’s flick, Asher, a sort of 1970s Charles Bronson-esque throwback where Ron Perlman is a twitchy, meticulous Jewish hit man, but he’s getting up there in age.
He has a pretty stylish routine on the jobs he’s hired for. He sets off sprinklers to get his quarry outside of the apartment, then shoots them dead all while holding an umbrella so he doesn’t get wet.
He’s also a creature of habit in his Brooklyn walkup, He always eats a meal he cooks for himself at 8 p.m., always pounds a bottle of wine nightly, and when asked what he does for a living to a prospective love interest, explains “I’m a contractor — turns out I have no other skills.”
Because this is more character-driven and less about well-engineered action set pieces to blow out the Dolby sound system, we have a pretty good cast surrounding Perlman with Richard Dreyfuss (Piranha 3-D) showing up as a shady crime guy and Famke Janssen (Deep Rising) showing up as Asher’s love interest whom he meets after fainting against her apartment door since the elevator was broken so he had to use the stairs and got gassed climbing up seven flights.
Asher’s a pretty straight-forward assassin, usually shooting his quarry, except he does show a little variety by injecting one guy on the subway and then stabbing another guy who ambushes him. He also gets caught between these two Jewish underworld-types who have a turf war going on, which leads to lots of looking over his should and …
Best Way to Earn a Buck With Little Effort: One of Asher’s assignments is to kill a guy, but fellow assassin Marina (Marta Milans) beats him to it: “He grabbed his left arm, said some s— in Chinese and fell on the floor.” Asher still insists on fulfilling his plan and chucks the body down three floors into an open dumpster in an alley.
Best Example of the Sad State of the Elderly: When Sophie comes to drop off groceries, Dora (Jacqueline Bisset) comments “You look like a s— hanging out of a horse’s ass that won’t quit.” Later on in the flick, Sophie ends up cleaning up Dora’s accident.
Best Evening Conversation: When Asher and Sophie talk about ways to kill her ailing mom.
Best Save: After taking his heart pills, Asher powers up and is able to snipe two guys, saving his cohort Uziel (Peter Facinelli) and this uppity young rookie guy who had flipped him off twice.
Second-best Save: After the conversation they had prior, Asher was gonna suffocate Dora with a pillow, but then Sophie walked into the room.
Best Reason to Leave a Restaurant: A guy ambushed Asher in the men’s room, but he kills the guy and comes back to the table, telling Sophie: “I just killed a man in the bathroom and I’m afraid if we don’t leave right now, they’re going to call the cops.” To which Sophie responds, “It’s true. Men will say anything for sex.”
Best Acting: The look that Asher gives Sophie upon her return to the cabin about three minutes before the credits roll. Sure, there’s one more scene left for the flick to resolve itself, but Perlman did a job there.
Check it out streaming on Starz, DirectTV, Apple TV, Amazon or YouTube or get the physical media.