Robert Duvall directs and stars in Assassination Tango, and since his gray moustache and ponytail prevent him from playing a convincing hooker with a heart of gold, the seasoned veteran has chosen the next best role: a hitman with a tender soul and a connoisseur's taste for tango. By day his John Anderson is the owner of a chain of beauty salons, the loving boyfriend to Maggie (Kathy Baker), and devoted father figure to her ten-year-old daughter Jenny (Katherine Micheaux Miller). By night he's a killer-for hire who takes a cool, detached approach to his work. And by God if his character isn't a complete figment of the imagination.
Call me cynical, but when was the last time you heard - outside of the movies, that is - about an assassin with a taste for the finer things in life? It's become a hip cliché in recent years (due in large part to The Sopranos) to present cold-blooded criminals as quirky, cultured people who struggle with the same daily dilemmas (family obligations, work-related stress) as "normal" people. Yet Duvall, despite a feisty performance as a weathered killer who, left stranded in Argentina when an assignment is delayed, wiles away his days learning the particulars of Argentine tango, can do nothing to make John Anderson seem like anything more than a fictional creation.
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