MGM Home Entertainment
Date: December 9, 2003
Review posted: January 8, 2004
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
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
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
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;
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
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.
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 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
select to view the film with optional English, French, Spanish
subtitles. The 114-minute feature is organized into
sixteen chapters. A paper insert lists scene selections and cast
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.
(not an average)
VERDICT: RENT IT