It's hard judge "Split Lip" fairly. The cinematography and acting are excellent, and the movie is worth watching for these facets alone...IF you don't mind some brutal, in-your-face violence and a nihilistic world view with barely any room for humanity. And a plot that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
I get that this is a fantasy where hit-men and paid killers are everywhere, as thick as leaves upon the ground, and that somehow killers who prefer dispatching the victims with their fists (and various melee weapons like ball bats and brass knuckles) are favored over shooters because beating the victims to death "sends a message"
But a bullet to the head sends a loud and clear message with a lot less fuss. So the movie has a credibility problem no matter how you try to buy into it,
Of course, I was impressed by the casting and performance of the lead actress and protagonist of the piece, who emits pure feral energy and diamond hard resolve in every scene. It's an amazing performance, the main reason to see the movie, and I hope she goes on to bigger and more subtle things.
The inclusion of the "Samuel" character was a fatal flaw in the movie . Nothing against the actor, who was engaging, who managed to deliver some nearly undeliverable lines of dialog, and worked hard to sell the role. But the character himself, and his role in the plot....well, it strained credulity to the breaking point. There's being "naive and idealistic" and there's being an idiot (I will admit, the "faceless dance" interlude was nice.) The only believable part of his character arc was its ending and his final fate. (He survives, but seems to be a broken man). Maybe that was the point?
Also, the movie has trouble explaining how this organization of hit-men and assassins is supposed to work. "Set" is marked for death because she left a witness alive, and she seems to be "one of the best there is" at this...but her assailants seem to find her effortlessly no matter where she hides, people apparently commit their kills and assaults in broad daylight, while being incredibly sloppy and careless about who else they kill in the process, and at least twice they warn her in advance that they are coming to kill her and set up a meeting ground. Ummm, no. I don't care what kind of weird Ronin/code of honor these guys have...no one would do that, even out of "professional courtesy".
Also, minus one point for the art direction for overusing plastic drop cloths and tarps in various sets. I get it, it's a signifier for catching all the spilled blood in the movie (and it's cheap set dressing) but...it's overused.
I was also annoyed by the denouement, which left the fate of the lead character unresolved. he whole point of the movie was, "What will happen to Set?", and we don't get an "ending", just a final speech and a decision to be made by the witness who was left alive.
Now, part of me thinks that the director made this entire movie just so he could end with the emotion of the final scene ringing in the audience's mind, but it feels to me like a cop out. Someone else might feel differently.
So: nice "art house film", more concerned with mood and emotion than with making sense or answering the questions it raises. A little more polish to the screenplay, a larger budget to cover some of the obvious improvisations and shortcuts, and this could have been a lot better and accessible, and not just one of those films that you like but can't justify sharing with anyone else.
In the underground world of contract killers, mistakes cannot be tolerated. Set "Doreé Seay", a top brutal mercenary with an icy exterior, finds out the hard way when one mistake sends her on a treacherous mission to clear her name. Hunted by her former mentor Karlton "DeJean Brown" and his roster of psychopaths, she forms an unlikely alliance with a mysterious stranger and his sister as Set races against the clock to out-wit and out-fight the dark forces gunning for her life.
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February 05, 2019 at 02:02 PM