by Hope Madden
Hey, Anthony Hopkins just won his second Oscar! The octogenarian was not the favorite, but there’s no denying that, after dozens of phoned-in near-cameos, he landed the role of a lifetime and gave a performance to match.
So, back to phoned-in near-cameos, I guess.
In director Nick Stagliano’s The Virtuoso, Hopkins plays The Mentor, an enigmatic man in a shadowy office. Mentor to whom, you ask? To The Virtuoso (Anson Mount), of course. He’s one of those “put my black ops training to good use responding only to this one guy by phone who sends me on my missions and otherwise I am utterly, stoically alone” kind of guys.
The Virtuoso is a man of few words—except in voiceover. In voiceover you cannot get him to shut up, his monotone musings on scheduling, technique, blah blah blah so wearying you can’t help but suddenly, brightly realize all over again what an absolute masterpiece American Psycho was.
One hit goes well. One hit goes south. Then we dig in for the next hit, where all the voiceover details about planning, timing, persistence and detail go straight out the window.
From here, we’re with The Virtuoso step by step as he bungles this and misunderstands that and misfires his weapon over here and makes poor decisions over there. It might make a half-decent comedy if it weren’t played so, so, so seriously.
Stagliano and writer James C. Wolf aim for neo-noir hipness but miss the mark by a wide distance.
Mount does what he can and almost generates interest as his character practices making normal people faces in the mirror before going out in public. Hopkins is saddled with nonsensical speeches meant to suggest his deadened soul. He doesn’t try too hard to make anything of it.
Abbie Cornish does try, bringing a flash of human interest as The Waitress. But no amount of homespun charm can save a movie this dumb.