You Kill Me

Terry Wowchuck/IFC Films

Review in a Hurry:  Ben Kingsley, delightfully beastly in Sexy Beast, visits gangland territory again, this time as an alcoholic assassin who attends AA meetings ("Hi, Ben") and gets all sexy with Téa Leoni (Hellooooo, Téa!). Okay, youse guys, Kill don't score no direct hit or nothin', but it still has killer performances.

The Bigger Picture:  It's the dead of winter in Buffalo, New York, and hit man Kingsley can't quit guzzling the hooch. After he bungles a major assignment for his Polish mobster family, they send him to San Francisco to straighten up his act. Why San Fran? 'Cause they say so, that's why.

Sure, it's a completely contrived setup, but are you gonna question the family?

Under the watchful eye of Bill Pullman (a dead ringer for Martin Sheen), Kingsley reluctantly starts the 12-step program, where he's sponsored by affable Luke Wilson, and even gets a job at a funeral home. Apropos, no? There he meets and falls for sharp-shooting media-sales rep Leoni. She and the hit man hit it off, though it's not till later—when Kingsley's clean and sober—that he comes clean about his real profession.

I don't buy that lovely Leoni is so lonely and so desperate to find a straight man in San Fran (puh-leeze) that she keeps shacking up with a murderer. But if you can suspend that disbelief (and get past Kingsley's mysterious accent), there's much to enjoy in their sassy scenes together.

Meanwhile, back in Buffalo, trouble brews between Kingsley's fam and some Irish gangsters. Will they drag him back in? Don't expect big action sequences here—this is more of a TV-size flick with a sly, understated (almost too understated) sense of humor. But in this summer of bloody blockbusters, it's refreshing to see a mobster movie where the small pleasures outnumber the body count.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  Another thug in need of therapy? After Grosse Pointe Blank, The Sopranos, Analyze This, Analyze That, etc., this character has become almost as stock as the hooker with a heart of gold. It's time to give these angsty assassins a rest—with the fishes.

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