Film and TV

Kill List shows that hit men have bills to pay, too

Hit men have bills to pay, too, and sometimes a kid to feed and an anxious wife to placate, even as they worry that their reputation in the bad-guy underworld is slipping. In the suburbs of Sheffield, England, a former soldier named Jay (a superb Neil Maskell) is stressed to the max, not least because his wife (MyAnna Buring) and his hit-man partner, Gal (Michael Smiley), keep reminding him of the job he screwed up in Kiev eight months ago. Clearly fascinated by the bickering banality of domestic life, Kill List writer-director Ben Wheatley (Down Terrace) isn't in a hurry to reveal the nature of the Kiev incident, but the tension in Jay's eyes suggests that it was a manifestation, not the cause, of a growing inner torment. When Jay and Gal are contracted to kill three people in quick succession, they're happy, in their way. Steady work can save a man, right? What happens next is brutal and bloody and utterly unnerving, thanks in no small measure to Jim Williams's brilliant score, which is filled with strings so taut, they sound like screams you might hear in the distance and decide (quite sensibly) to ignore.

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Chuck Wilson is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.