Fast Charlie Movie Review: An almost slick and entertaining action flick with an in-form Pierce Brosnan

Fast Charlie Movie Review: An almost slick and entertaining action flick with an in-form Pierce Brosnan

The lack of originality is not a dealbreaker in the film, a pure and easygoing entertainer that ticks all the usual boxes but does not pretend to be anything more
Fast Charlie(3 / 5)

Pierce Brosnan’s Charlie Swift in Fast Charlie is the sort of existential hero you often find in action films about professional killers who want out for a more peaceful life. He is trigger-happy and kills with the callousness of a trained gun for hire. He is suave and sophisticated (of course, what else would a former James Bond be?). He loves cars so much that his first concern after his new partner-in-crime blows up with his car is about the state of the vehicle itself. Soon after a hit job that happens to involve chopping one’s head off, he comes home to his mundane domestic life, which involves cooking and caring for his longtime friend and partner, Stan Mullen (the late James Cann in good form). The violence does not faze Charlie, and his demeanour never changes between his criminal life and domestic existence. Charlie chops vegetables with practiced ease, underscoring how the mundane task stands in stark contrast to the sheer brutality of his profession. While Charlie is a killer, he also cares for his partner to such an extent that he even attaches labels to each food item to help the latter with a waning memory.

Director: Phillip Noyce

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, James Cann, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Morena Baccarin

Unsurprisingly, then, he considers himself a “fixer” and a “problem solver” rather than an enforcer. There are so many problems in the film for Charlie to solve, none more dangerous than a gangster named Beggar (Gbenga Akinnagbe), who wipes out Stan and almost everyone in his gang, except for Charlie. Now, Charlie must use his skills and instincts to return the favour and sail into the sunset. For a mostly slick action film, the plot is slightly complex and generic, ticking off all the usual boxes with familiar elements. But the lack of originality of the film is not quite a dealbreaker. After all, it is a pure and easygoing entertainer that does not pretend to be anything more.

This is not to say that the film is fully devoid of quirky and smart elements. Directing from a Richard Wenk screenplay, Phillip Noyce infuses the lead characters with just enough verve and wit to make them more than caricaturish. Take the protagonist, Charlie, for instance. It is just a pleasure to see him indulge in his occasional tendency to deliver philosophical lines and dry wit. In one scene, he shows up at the front door of his accomplice, a taxidermist named Marcie Kramer (Morena Baccarin), to find a couple of people, lying dead on the floor, whom she has managed to get rid of on her own. Charlie barely bats an eyelid, his dry wit kicking in as he asks, 'This a bad time?'

In another scene, he mutters, “Betrayal is a funny thing, and it is in its nature to catch you off guard.” It is a reference to his own line of work, where trust is a luxury that is not easily affordable. Wenk’s screenplay, based on Victor Gischler’s novel ‘Gun Monkeys’, connects its many themes with sensible plot elements. For example, Charlie’s father forces him to stand against the wall and fires blanks at his back to make him learn a lesson about how even those close to you can be your biggest enemies. This explains why Charlie does not trust anyone blindly. He has a video doorbell at his home and instinctively doubts some of Stan’s crew, meaning his own crew, for the hit job.

The film also has some exciting action. Watch out for the scene where a killer is after Brosnan as he clings on to his life in a laundry chute. While the film does not necessarily break new ground, Brosnan’s conviction to pack enough action, humor, and charisma helps elevate Fast Charlie a couple of notches above your usual action thriller about an existential hitman.

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