The venerable Robert Duvall writes, directs and stars in Assassination Tango, a movie that suggests he should not be involved in the screenwriting element of his participation. While moderately tolerable for two acts, the film crumbles in the third, leaving little but a quickly forgotten film.
Duvall stars as John, a man who has a loving wife and stepdaughter. Unbeknownst to them, he is also a hit man, and his latest job has sent him to Argentina where he is to kill a General. While down in the country, the General's return is delayed, so he is forced to do something to take up his time, which ends up being tango. A relationship starts with Manuela (Luciana Pedraza), a beautiful tango dancer, and things go from there...
But don't go very far. Assassination Tango is a well-directed and fairly well-written movie; graced with Duvall's acting, every scene is incredibly believable. Unlike in many films, the dialogue seems ultra realistic, meaning that the characters stumble with their wording, et cetera. Duvall seems to be the master of this kind of dialogue, as he acts as though he is talking with someone off stage; nothing seems scripted.
But where there is good, there is bad, and a big gaping hole appears in the most important act of the movie, the third act. Duvall seems to have forgotten to write or film an ending to this movie, as there is none. This movie has one of the most disappointing and inconclusive endings ever witnessed. In the end, nothing happens between he and Manuela; in fact, one day he just doesn't show up to meet her (since he killed the guy and is now in hiding) and she walks away. That is the end of their relationship, and nothing really happens between them. Furthermore, Duvall's character alludes to the fact that someone on the inside knew about the assassination from the beginning, but then the film ends without every exploring that angle.
Of course, perhaps worst of all, the movie is not even remotely interesting when it comes to the tango dancing. There is very little dancing in the movie, and when there is dancing, it is slow, methodical and not all that fun to watch. Fans looking for some good "tango action" will be massively disappointing. To add salt to the wound, Duvall only dances with Pedraza once or twice for a few seconds, and the only other times are in short dream sequences.
It is hard to tell what Duvall was trying to get at with this film. The dialogue is believable, but in the long run, the movie fails to work on any level. It is definitely not a good assassin movie. It is not a romantic movie, since nothing even comes close to happening with Manuela (not even on a friendship basis). It is not for tango fans, since there is very little tango. So, essentially, Assassination Tango is about nothing.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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