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Assassination Tango

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
Assassination Tango
from Film Forum, 04/10/03

Christian film critics poured on the praise for Robert Duvall's direction of The Apostle, in which he played a passionate but flawed preacher. This time, Duvall's direction focuses on a far less admirable character, and religious press critics are unimpressed.

In Assassination Tango, Duvall portrays John J. Anderson. Anderson keeps his girlfriend (Kathy Baker) convinced that he's just the owner of several Brooklyn beauty salons. But he invests himself in a second, more sinister vocation—he's an assassin for hire. When he reluctantly agrees to perform a hit in Argentina, Anderson insists on one thing: the job must wrap up in time for his 10–year–old daughter's birthday. Things do not go as planned. As Anderson waits for his target to arrive, he becomes suspicious of his partners in crime (Ruben Blades and Julio Oscar Mechoso). To complicate matters further, he becomes obsessed with a local tango teacher, a beautiful dancer named Manuela (Luciana Pedraza). Before long, Anderson is running for his life, killing those who get in his way, determined to resolve things on his own terms without remorse.

Gerri Pare (Catholic News Service) calls it "a morally bankrupt film. Neither the romantic elements nor what should build to the suspenseful aspect of the crime ever comes to life."

Alex Field (Relevant Magazine) agrees: "The story lacks the one thing it boasts: tension." Field also argues that Duvall's Anderson is less than convincing: "Duvall's boss touts him as 'the best,' but we never get a sense of that, in fact it sometimes feels like the opposite is true. [Anderson] wears bad disguises, although he's the only 70–year–old gringo haunting this particular Argentinean neighborhood; he stakes out the location of an assassination so obviously that somebody's got to take notice; and he uses every hit man cliché to precede him including the token clean–your–gun, draw–your–gun scene."

Mainstream critics are not quite as negative in their responses. You can scan their reviews here.