Here at Missile Test, we like a shitty movie that has ambitions. We appreciate when an auteur has a vision that far outstrips either resources or filmmaking ability. The result can be a film that flies off the rails, one that is a total head scratcher, or one that sits somewhere in between, sloshing back and forth between watchable absurdity, and unwatchable stupidity. Such is the case with The Silencer, the 1992 film from writer Scott Kraft, and writer/director Amy Goldstein.
Lynette Walden plays Angelica, a badass early ’90s chick who would have found a ready home in Twin Peaks. She dresses all in black, smokes cigarettes non-stop, rides motorcycles, and, oh yeah, is a contract assassin.
Her latest gig is to take out a gaggle of bad folks who are running a child prostitution ring. No arguments, there. But, Angelica is a maudlin sort, ready to pack it in and find a new profession. She deals with her professional depression by latching on to the nearest hunks of man meat she can find, occasionally turning this neo-noir into an erotic thriller. Meanwhile, Angelica’s ex and former partner in death, George (Chris Mulkey), is stalking her, hoping to force her back into a relationship.
That’s the basic stuff. What makes this an ambitious project is some weirdness added by Goldstein.
George doesn’t just stalk Angelica by following her around Los Angeles. Rather, he has a supernatural video game cabinet that can see everywhere she goes and everything she does, tapping into the camera Goldstein uses to film a scene. I don’t mean that it breaks the fourth wall. Rather, that it represents impossible levels of surveillance in a film that features no magic and no futuristic sci-fi elements. It’s just bizarre.
Also bizarre is the film’s opening, which is a 16-bit ripoff of the opening of a James Bond flick, right down to stealing hooks here and there from John Barry’s Goldfinger theme.
The opening montage fits in with how Angelica is assigned her targets. She was given a set of tokens that she drops into a video game. As she plays, eventually her avatar kills an NPC that sprouts angel’s wings. Then the screen changes to show pertinent info on her victims, including where they can be found and potential vulnerabilities. Then it’s off to the races for Angelica.
Goldstein tried some character development here and there, including with Angelica’s love interests. But, they end up being empty-headed fodder. Considering how female characters are treated in films with a male antagonist, this is some nice turnaround as fair play, but is hammer-headed nonetheless. It is funny watching Tony and Drew (Paul Ganus and Jaime Gomez) fall unquestionably into Angelica’s orbit with little thought, just because she’s a hot chick. I won’t pretend to be any less shallow than these two, I’m just pointing out that these characters are some of the more amusing one-dimensional morons one will find in a shitty movie.
Angelica goes from set piece to set piece, killing scumbags, including a sleazy boxing promoter played by Morton Downey Jr., until George finally makes his presence known in the final act, leading to more death and denouement.
The film never breaks out of its set piece nature, however. The stakes don’t grow, events refuse to connect, and the ending is anonymous. Besides a premise and some curious conceits (look closely during a love scene and viewers will notice scars on Angelica’s back, as if she had angel’s wings cut off), Goldstein and company seemed to think just making a movie 92-minutes long was enough, and forget all that other storytelling bunk.
The Silencer has its interesting moments, keeping it out of the bottom of the Watchability Index. It doesn’t move fast enough for good watchability, however. It takes over the #263 spot from The Blackout.