Assassination Tango  (2002)


Rating: R

Distributor: MGM Home Entertainment

Release Date: December 9, 2003
Review posted: January 8, 2004


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




John J. (Robert Duvall) is a seasoned hit man sent on a job to Argentina. When the General he's sent to kill delays his return to the country, John passes the time with Manuela (Luciana Pedraza), a beautiful dancer who becomes his teacher and guide into Argentina's sensual world of the tango. Spellbound by the rich and mysterious world Manuela has shown him, his idyll is shattered when the reality of why he's there comes crashing down around him. Thanks to IMDB.




Robert Duvall makes a decent impression in his latest turn as director after the interesting and acclaimed The Apostle from 1997. In Assassination Tango, Duvall plays an aging hitman, but he's still at the top of his game. In fact, he claims there is no one more reliable and clean than himself. The character of John J. starts out as a kind of tough guy, but he's also a family man, living with a woman and her daughter. John takes on a job that promises to last only three days and will pay him well.


But, as unseen forces determine it, there is more going on behind what starts out as a straight hit on an aging general. When John finds the General's arrival is delayed, he checks out the local tango clubs and meets a beautiful tango dancer/actress (Pedraza). In fact, Duvall and Pedraza are partners in real life. Well, the film goes on and on about tango for some time. Some of these scenes are dragging a bit. Scenes between John and Manuela are good as they have a natural feel to them, but one scene with her parents could've been shortened. Pedraza's acting is right on the money, plus she looks gorgeous. Duvall is really good here, but probably his best performance in quite a long time was in Kevin Costner's western Open Range.


In the end, I wish Duvall's script would've stuck more closely to the intriguing assassination plot, flesh it out a little more. Granted, the script explains some things early on, but it loses some focus as the story progresses. Sometimes the story seemed to simply wait around; unfocused. However, I like all of the film's suspenseful moments. Duvall directs them quite well. The sequence at the airport is especially cool. In the end, Assassination Tango is only a decent film. It's worth checking out for Duvall, and the story has a little twist to it, the tango subplot, but not enough juice.


The Video


MGM presents Assassination Tango in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Print image is pretty decent. There is a little bit of softness. A speck or two shows up, and grain is present in more than a handful of scenes. It appears most of the scenes were filmed in natural light only. However, the tango clubs seemed pretty appealing in their design. Colors look nice, detail is fine, and sharpness is decent. Overall, the video looks just fine.


The Audio


MGM presents Assassination Tango in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. This is not an aggressive soundtrack by any means, it sounds fairly decent. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. Surrounds are active at specific times. There is some positional audio, bit not a lot. Most of the soundtrack is emitted from the front. Some of the sound effects are accentuated quite well. The tango music by composer Luis Bacalov sounds terrific. To sum it up, audio quality pretty decent. Also available are Spanish and Portuguese Stereo Surround dub tracks.


The Extras


The main supplement here is the audio commentary by Robert Duvall and Luciana Pedraza. Both sound confident and lively as they discuss the film, however there are the occasional gaps of silence. A handful of deleted scenes also appear with commentary by Duvall and Pedraza. These scenes don't add a whole lot to the film, which is why they were cut. Rounding out the extras is a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, the film's theatrical trailer, and several promo trailers for other MGM titles.


You can select to view the film with optional English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The 114-minute feature is organized into sixteen chapters. A paper insert lists scene selections and cast list.




Some parts of the film are intriguing and suspenseful. At other times scenes feel too long and drag on a bit. The script is decent, but not solid. I enjoyed the film to a degree, but that's about it. MGM's video/audio quality is just fine, and the extras are nice, especially the commentary.









OVERALL (not an average)









Support this site

Buy great items




Various Artists

Buy the CD!



Buy the Poster