THE LAST HIT MAN. Direct to video, 2008. Joe Mantegna, Elizabeth Whitmere, Romano Orzari, Michael Majeski, Victoria Snow. Written and directed by Christopher Warre Smets.

   As I’m sure you could easily tell from the title without my telling you, The Last Hit Man is rated “R” for lots of gun-related violence, but if that isn’tanything that would stop you, if the movie is otherwise well done, here’s a movie I can recommend to you, and highly at that.

   Joe Mantegna is perfectly cast as Harry Tremayne, the titular hit man, a fellow getting up in years after a long career of never failing on an assignment. Until, that is, he does. Not only does he begin to be filled with self doubt — is his body stating to fail him? — he realizes that the person who hired him is going to start wondering if it’s possible Harry has changed sides.

   So Harry is ready when someone else comes gunning for him. Someone who fails. And whom Harry then hires to .. Well, I probably shouldn’t tell you, but it’s a neat twist (and even with as little of a hint that I can give you, you probably already know what I’m not telling you).

   That’s the outer story. What I haven’t told you yet is that Harry has a partner. His young twenty-something daughter, Racquel, who is his electronics expert as well as his getaway driver. And more: she has a boy friend, an earnest young man who has no idea what the family business is that he just might be marrying into.

   There is a lot of humor in this story, but it’s definitely understated — the kind that makes you smile rather than laugh out loud — and so you should definitely not take what I say to mean that The Last Hit Man is a comedy. It is not. It is rather a personal and down-to-earth family drama, and there is more to the story that I am definitely not telling you, and this time I mean it.


[Added later.] I was so impressed by Joe Mantegna’s performance in this film, I went looking for his resume. I knew he’d taken over for Robert Urich in two or three made-for-TV Spenser movies, and he was in several very good David Mamet films, but of his other work, not much else. It turns out that he’s had a substantial role in most of the fifteen year run that Criminal Minds recently closed up shop on.

   Fifteen years? I’ve never watched it. Barely heard of it. Thought of it as a psychopath and/or serial killer of week kind of show. Psychopaths and/or serial killers don’t interest me. Is/was it more that? It would it seem to have to have been, for a TV series to be on that long.