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4.7 out of 5 stars19
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 18 July 2011
A forgotten movie, this is an overlooked gem of a film that has rightfully received some overdue recognition by Criterion (where would we be without them?!). The basic premise seems well trod by other more celebrated films, but the execution of this lifts it above the competition.

It is a British gangster film, and concerns a thug (played by Terrence Stamp) who has given evidence in court on other gangsters. He then runs before being tracked down and retrieved for his betrayal. The rest of the film plays out on the return journey, as the men prepare to execute him.

It is quickly identifiable as an 80s movie with the score but the sordid story and the supreme confidence with which it has been told, the central performances by Stamp, Tim Roth and John Hurt excell and the undercurrent of existential and moral conflicts ensure that style never outweighs substance.

Stephen Frears has been an underrated British talent and this is clearly one of his very finest films. It is gripping yet funny, fast moving yet dedicated to character and until the end you are left uncertain about motivations and outcome. It is essentially a gangster film but is never gratuitous and the material is handled with restraint. A real gem that deserves greater recognition.
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on 11 February 2015
Terence Stamp is supergrass Willie Parker. After he gives evidence against the rest of his gang, they break out into a chorus of 'We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when...'

Ten years later, he's living in Spain when the day he always knew would happen arrives. He's kidnapped and delivered to two English hitmen, John Hurt in charge of the younger, more volatile, Tim Roth. They're taking him to certain death, but can he escape, including by persuading at least one of them not to do it?

As well as the three magnificent central performances, it's little touches from the start, like the photos on the wall reminding us of Stamp's 1960s films, or the way that one of his police minders brush the book he's reading off the table to serve him his egg and sausage, that make this great. Look at the way that when he gets to the top of his villa, he doesn't fight, but looks at the view - he knows he may not see it again. Or who knows what the payoff for the kidnap is. Or...

It's a disgrace that this hasn't had a UK DVD release - it's been a reason for keeping a VHS player here.
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on 4 March 2010
This is a quite superb movie from Stephen Frears. It brought Terence Stamp out of retirement and John Hurt is on record as saying that his role is the one of his favourites of his career. Nowadays this film would be considered Tarantinoesque. But it was made 10 years or so before Tarantino made his first film! Its a kind of existential gangster movie with Stamp in a state of utter serenity despite having been kidnapped by a couple of unstable hit men (Hurt & Roth). In fact Hurt verges on the psychotic. Superb cinematography & filmed in Spain, this is HIGHLY recommended. You'll keep coming back to it, mark my words.
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on 30 August 2015
The interesting unrealeased debut of Stephen Frears, maybe a little too "independent", without much soul and too weak to be really compelling. A cold film, that has his best points in the setting and the atmosphere that reminds of Melville's noir film.
A noir film set in sunny and hot Spain, with a very good cast.
Not a great film, but worth watching
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on 8 April 2009
The victim of a recent and substandard remake Stephen Frears The Hit is a classic surely soon be be 'discovered" as a classic British gangster film by the industry and raised to the level of Get Carter and The Italian Job. Stephen Frears is in my mind Britain's greatest living director as his range and intelligence is so broad. This is Frears at his best.

Beautifully cast and paced the script pitches a Buddist like Stamp against an equally opaque Hurt and his over excited young apprentice hitman Tim Roth. Spain looks beautiful and the unusual relationship between kidnappers and Stamp is reinforced by the downbeat ending and places the film as something on a higher plain than any gangster caper of the past 25 years. If you enjoy films at the intellectual level of The Conversation and Three days of the Condor both with uneasy but realistic conclusions then this is the film for you.

An aside> For those that remember Seaside Special - yes that is Lennie Peters (of Peters and Lee) as the truly scary villain being sent down on Stamps evidence at the beginning of the film. Stamp is then serenaded by the henchmen with Dame Vera Lynn's "We'll meet again.." Perfect.

I have a region 1 DVD and I'm still waiting for a re-release of this superb film on Region 2.
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on 30 December 2013
Since I first saw this back in the eighties I've been gagging to see it again, and it's taken a long time. I ordered the region 1 dvd from America because, as far as I know, that's the only option apart from some substandard pan and scan version out there.

It's dated a little, not quite as glorious as I remember, but still a solid hit with an intriguing cast and a story that lingers in the mind for a good time afterwards. And if only to see John Hurt, Terence Stamp and Tim Roth sharing lots of screen time together it's gotta be worth it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 April 2015
When Terence Stamp's Willie Parker is abducted from his Spanish home in a remote village in La Mancha he accepts the occurrence with an apparent relaxed equanimity. He has been expecting such an event for ten years, ever since he gave evidence in a London court against his criminal colleagues. Parker's fatalistic attitude towards his impending death unnerve the two hitmen sent to collect him, John Hurt's world weary professional killer and Tim Roth's hot blooded apprentice on his first job. Inevitably, the journey home does not go as planned and I watched with growing admiration as the way this Tarantinoesque tale (made before Tarantino's films hit our screens) unfolded. The screenplay, acting, cinematography and soundtrack all contribute to making this film a genuine classic of its genre. I knew nothing about this movie and fortuitously bought my DVD at a charity shop a couple of years ago on a whim, based on the actors and director. This is definitely a film to seek out.
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on 25 March 2015
Delighted to get a copy of this classic British Gangster film. I am also a fan of the late Paco de Lucia who provides the dramatic Flamenco score throughout the film. This DVD was set up for Italian viewers but you can choose English from the menu and get the original soundtrack without the dubbed Italian. Terence Stamp and John Hurt are brilliant in their roles as hard bitten criminals. A must see for fans of classic British crime movies.
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HALL OF FAMEon 4 November 2012
Stephen Frears' forgotten movie (it sank without a trace when it was released) has recently, thanks to Criterion, now received some of the recognition and love it deserves.

Willie Parker (Terence Stamp), a career crook, ratted out his mates. In exchange for testifying against them in court he received a new identity and a comfortable retirement in a village in Spain. Still, he knew his former comrades would sooner or later come after him. Ten years later, they do.

Braddock (John Hurt), an emotionless, professional hitman, and his young, excitable apprentice, Myron (Tim Roth), take Willie and set out to drive to Paris and the gang leader he betrayed. A Spanish police officer (Fernando Rey) is after them. Willie seems to accept his fate, but he begins to plant questions in the minds of Braddock and, especially, Myron. Violent incidents happen. It seems likely Willie isn't going to make it alive to the French border. In Madrid they wind up having to take with them Maggie, the girl friend of a fat Aussie crook. Soon Braddock and Maggie are fighting, with Myron trying to protect Maggie. Now Willie seems to have accepted his fate with a serenity that worries Braddock. But it seems that Willie's serenity depends on Braddock. The conclusion to this fine film may be a tad confusing (even the actors aren't sure in the commentary). With a movie this well made, all that means is there'll be good conversation after watching it.

The acting is exceptional. One accepts that with Stamp, Hurt and Roth. In The Hit, even the smallest roles are pungent. Laura del Sol as Maggie is vivid and Bill Hunter as the aging Aussie who pays her bills is funny, unpleasant and pitiable.
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on 23 August 2014
Superb 'lost gem' from the early 1980s. Pity only available from Italy, this is a minor masterpiece that Quentin Tarantino cites as a classic.......and he's no mug!
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