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Assassination Tango

Starring: Robert Duvall, Luciana Pedraza, and Kathy Baker
Directed/written by: Robert Duvall
Rated: R



Assassination Tango is a beautiful film. The problem that keeps it from being a great film is a meandering script that never fully develops. Shame really because the great Robert Duvall wrote it. He also directed it and stars in it. Frankly for his impeccable performance as "John" (the Tango-ing hit man) the film's a keeper for any fan of the craft. And what Assassination Tango lacks in stitched storylines it almost makes up for in gorgeous Tango scenes. Duvall and his crew have captured some stunning performances by a number of Tango professionals and Duvall's wife, Luciana Pedraza, who plays a Tango dancer and a love interest in the film.

Assignation Tango follows John J. (Robert Duvall) a mob hit man with a reputation as a fixer of sorts. If you have a messy potentially hot hit- you call this guy. John sneaks in virtually as a ghost of death, silently whacks the prey, and disappears.

When his longtime boss and friend Frankie (Frank Gio) needs a favor down in Buenos Aires he reluctantly agrees. John's seeing a new style of life since he met Maggie (Kathy Baker) and her daughter. He's thinking now's the time to give up the biz and play daddy. Sweet huh?

He heads down to Argentina and promises the little girl he will be back in time for her birthday…naturally he's not as things don't quite go as planned. There's corruption in the corruption and he's up to his eyeballs in human low lifes.

But that's okay. Johnnie sneaks out while he waits to make the hit and gets immersed in Tango. He meets a gorgeous Tango teacher (Luciana Pedraza) and starts to live yet another life.

Will he ever just hit his target? Can we please have some action? Storylines were dropped as if the filmmaker forgot he'd started them and the mundane in this character became just that - mundane. Usually slow films are a passion for me. Not this time.

Robert Duvall has created homage to his favorite hobby, the Tango. The story is riddled with so much Tango it often glides away from any story structure and that's why, as beautifully shot and directed as Assignation Tango is, it kind of falls flat. But the story had so much potential if more emphasis was put on "Johnny" and his obviously psychotic dueling personas, dancing a Tango themselves in his brain, Duvall would have had the hit (no pun intended) he deserved in the film.

Luciana Pedraza, who plays Tango teacher/performer Manuela, is not a professional dancer but you wouldn't know it. She told me she worked hours a day for a year to learn the Tango moves she makes look fluid and down right easy. I wasn't as crazy about her acting - her lack of experience definitely shows. Who knows maybe if she were beside a lesser actor than Duvall - I mean you'd have to be pretty darn good to shine when he's on the screen next to you...

It was nice to see Kathy Baker show up as "John's" clueless and trusting stateside gal pal. Her scenes were infuriatingly small but at least Duvall knows talent when he sees it.

If you're a diehard Duvall fan - see this it's a very personal film for him and as always his acting is perfect. His direction also well done. It's his script - or at least the way this film was cut - that is the real let down here.

Snack Recommendation: Coffee - real strong


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