Bobby is happy to be a hitman. It beats his old job as a Dom DeLuise stunt double.
When Sidney returns from his voyage to the bathroom/beyond the grave, Bobby counters with a story of some of his recent kills. For instance, he paid a visit to an old woman who was, by the very merit of Bobby being there, also sick. Being such a professional, you'd think he's shoot her in the back of the head, or smother her in her sleep, or something civilized like that. But no, he actually flat out tells her that's he's going to kill her painfully, then proceeds to beat her to death with a set of brass knuckles while chanting the rhyme "Your soul is shallow / Your conscience is weak / I smell your fear / And taste your defeat!" May I remind you that this is a sick old woman. It's not like he's out-boxing Evander Holyfield, here. He's a trained killer pounding on a sick old woman. I'm not sure if that really requires the death mantra. As he's pummeling her, her blood gets all over him. Sure is nice to know that this incredibly dangerous, highly contagious plague that is sweeping across the country not only cannot be contracted through the air, since the killers never wear any sort of masks, but also cannot be contracted through contact with bodily fluids. Sounds like a real epidemic, here. Bobby's other greatest triumph is over a young boy. He really racks up the tough assignments. I think his real triumph isn't over his targets, though. Rather, it's over the twin demons of Not Typing and Not Binding your reports! Collating, thy name is Bobby!
I will say this, though: while the subject matter may be pointless and annoying, the scene of Bobby chasing the little boy through his house and out into his yard is done in one very long, continuous, surprisingly stable shot. I have to complement "Viral Assassins" on its camerawork right there. That's not easy to pull off. That's why I say Robert Larkin has potential. He's gutsy and he's capable of getting things done. He just needs to apply that potential to something other than big fat guys chasing little boys.
Presumably this is a picture of something. I don't know what, but it's definitely something. Probably. It's probably definitely something.
Sidney and Bobby convince Billy to tell one of his own stories. He's hesitant at first, but since they regard him as a living legend, he finally agrees. He spins the tale of his latest target, a young woman. As he's stalking through this woman's house, trying to find her, there is a picture in the background that shows a mother and daughter. The same picture is used in one of Bobby's stories to refer to a different family. You see, it's the little touches, like not stumbling into easily avoidable continuity errors, that give Larkin some trouble.
Billy find the woman hiding in her attic. She manages to engage him in conversation and tells him that she was a government scientist who accidentally got infected with a sample of the virus. She claims that her case is going into remission, which means she has the antibodies within her to treat the disease. Furthermore, she makes the case that the government doesn't want there to be a cure, because as long as there is a widespread disease that is being treated like a federal crime, they can monitor everything with no regard for privacy. It makes sense, so long as you take "sense" to mean "no sense whatsoever." The woman shows Billy her still-present lesions as proof of her remission, which is supposed to support the movie's point that appearances can mean many things, except that the current state of her lesions would only mean something if Billy had seen her before. Since he has nothing to compare it to, that shouldn't really provide much in the way of evidence. Billy lets her go anyway, hoping that she can get to a free zone and create a vaccine for the virus. We can only presume this is because Billy is going senile, or perhaps because he's drunk again. I mean, every time we see Billy in this entire movie, he's downing a swig of scotch. He probably negotiated it in his contract that he would only do this movie if he could get shitfaced during every take. I can't say I blame him.
Bobby and Sidney are aghast to hear that their mentor let a target escape. What's worse, he didn't even submit a typed and bound report! Shock! Horror! Other emotions that none of the actors know how to convey! Fortunately, just then, the bellhop knocks on the door, distracting the hitmen from Billy's failure. Remember the bet? First person to kill the bellhop with their bare hands wins the bonus money. So you can understand why it's something of a surprise that both Bobby and Sidney draw their guns on the bellhop the second he comes into the room. At least, it's surprising until the bellhop actually speaks. From that point on, I'd be happy to kill him myself. This guy is possibly the most annoying actor I've ever seen. I hate to resort to stereotypes, especially of my own people, but you know that kid in your high school who's just a walking embodiment of every negative Jewish stereotype there is? The kid who is so Jewish that when you see him, the only thing you can think is, "Dear sweet Jesus, whom I love, this kid is way too freaking Jewish for his own good?" Multiply that by the highest number you can think of. Then double it. Then put him at the most awkward stage of puberty and cram him into an ill-fitting bellhop uniform. That's this bellhop. He's a whiny, nasal little idiot whose only even remotely redeeming feature is that the dialogue he has to work with wouldn't even sound good if Robert fucking De Niro was saying it. I'm saying the only thing this kid has going for him is the fact that some of his annoyance factor isn't entirely his own fault. I don't like this bellhop, people. I don't know how much clearer I can make it.
Even so, Bobby and Sidney don't kill him right away. They make him get down on the carpet and talk to him first. Since they're obviously planning to shoot him, you'd think one of them would have put a bullet in the kid's skull as soon as he walked into the room and claimed the bonus money. But no, they have to keep him alive long enough for him to have more dialogue. Bastards, the lot of them. Remarkably, when it seems like the script is at its lowest possible point, Robert Larkin shifts things into a whole new gear of crap. A woman barges into the hotel room and interrupts the festivities. She's not just any woman, though - she's their secret boss. She's not just their secret boss, though - she's also Sidney's mother. Sidney's. Fucking. Mother. Understand how much hatred I have for this sorry-ass excuse for a plot twist. The sheer number of potential subplots that this woman derails is the cinematic equivalent of crashing your car into a telephone pole to avoid having to go to a meeting. All of the supposedly "thought-provoking" plot threads that supporters of this movie are always going on about - Sidney's guilty conscience, Bobby's senseless brutality, Billy's moral crisis, the anarchical potential of the scientist woman finding a cure, etc. - are brought to a halt, then destroyed altogether.
Sidney's mother makes a big scene of complimenting Bobby on his efficiency, chastising Billy for failing to file a typed and bound report of his last target, and yelling at Sidney for killing that guy in the woods. Apparently that guy was Sidney's uncle, whom he had not seen since childhood. Once again, this is probably supposed to be comic relief in the place of actual plot, but all possibly comedy collapses on itself faster than one of my front page articles thanks to blatant plot holes. For instance, this woman appears to have control over the assignments the hitmen receive. So why would she give her son a mission to kill his own uncle if she doesn't want him to do it? I mean, the way she talks to Billy makes it pretty clear that there is no room for the hitmen to opt not to kill any of the targets they're given for any reason. In the end, Billy goes on his way, and the mother gives Bobby and Sidney an assignment they're supposed to work on together. The target is Billy himself. Wow, what a think-piece! Oh wait, no, not "think-piece." I mean "hackneyed piece of crap." I so often get those confused. The character of the mother is such a forced way to bring about a conclusion to the scene without actually having to tie up any plotlines, I'm actually considering holding an intervention for Robert Larkin to prevent him from ever writing again.
Despite the atrocious lighting, acting ranging from wooden to almost intentionally irritating, and a script that a bird wouldn't build a nest out of for fear that its babies would grow up retarded, "Viral Assassins" has a lot of respect from the low budget film-watching community. At least, that's what the internet would have me believe. I can only assume this is because lots of people on the internet are morons. Not the people who read this site, of course, but other people. They seem to think that it's some sort of masterpiece of intellectual science fiction. I'll admit that some of the concepts are interesting, but they all fall apart. I'd like to think I've got a pretty huge willingness to suspend disbelief. Hell, I watched Dragon Ball Z for years and enjoyed the fuck out of it. But somehow this movie just asked too much of me. First of all, there's a virus that is supposed to be highly contagious and incredibly deadly, but as far as the movie ever shows, you can cover yourself in the blood of an infected person and come out with a clean bill of health. Additionally, no one ever exhibits any symptoms other than the lesions. No coughing, no vomiting, no explosive diarrhea, nothing. Hell, during Bobby's montage of all the people he's killed, it pretty much proves that you can have this disease and still go about a normal, healthy life. So you've got a purely cosmetic disease that is made into a crime by the government so that they can control everything. That's an interesting concept on its own (except for the "purely cosmetic" part), but it loses some credibility when it becomes apparent that the government's idea of even having the appearance of treating this disease is to create a division of killers.
The concept of killers in itself isn't so impossible to swallow, but I have a hard time convincing myself that a government that obsessed with control would allow its killers to use any methods they wanted to dispatch their targets. If the killers gave their victims lethal injections, or arrested them and brought them to a centralized location where they would be killed in some sort of orderly, uniform fashion, that might be okay. But how could any government ever say to their people, "Not only are we going to be monitoring you at all times for this disease, but if we think you have it, we're going to send killers to come after you at their leisure and murder you in whatever agonizing, violent fashion they see fit," and not be immediately overthrown in a massive revolt? And how are all of these sick people being found out, anyway? I was just guessing on that "monitoring you at all times" bit. We never see any surveillance cameras or anything like that, and yet the files the hitmen receive on their targets always have headshots in them. The only thing I can figure is that these sick people go to doctors, and the doctors take pictures and submit them to the Viral Assassin Agency. So wouldn't people stop reporting their illness to doctors?
I think I could forgive all of those issues if the movie at least lived up to its own hype. All the promos for "Viral Assassins" put the focus on the scientist woman and her potential cure. For example, "One woman may hold the antidote to the deadly disease, but she, too, is being hunted by government assassins. Can she save the world for catastrophe?" We'll never know, because that plotline never gets fucking resolved! There's an entire movie to be found within the idea of one aging hitman trying to prevent two other hitmen from killing this woman long enough to see if she really can cure the disease. I hope I didn't just give Robert Larkin an idea for a sequel, though, because I'm fairly certain he'd just have Bobby's niece or something stupid like that come in and ruin everything. This movie doesn't take itself seriously enough to bother pursuing any of the more interesting subplots long enough to really make them thought-provoking, so why should we bother thinking about it at all? I'd like to see Robert Larkin try his hand at directing another project, perhaps something with some more guidance, but for the love of all that is holy, he should never be allowed to write again.
|Special Effects:||- 7|
|Music / Sound:||- 5|
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Something Awful reviews the absolute worst movies out there. We focus mostly on horror and science fiction, because all writers here on Something Awful are huge nerds.