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Who Pays The Hitman ....a very smart Aussie Indie film picking up recognition in U.S.!
17 Feb 2017

It’s easy for Australian cinema, not to mention independent Aussie cinema, to fly under the radar abroad, but 2010 Bondiwood Films offering Who Pays the Hitman managed to pick up Best Drama at the Tehapachi International Film Festival as well as Runner up Narrative at Macon Film Fest and two Honourable mentions in and L.A. New Wave Sunset Film Festival respectively.

It’s a smart drama-comedy that manages to distinguish itself from the scores of often fantastic films that prominently feature a Hitman !

Morally questionable Jack Higgins – played by the ruggedly masculine Steve Maxwell – is a career contract killer, finding himself in an emergency room late one night when a spider bite on his trigger finger threatens to interfere with the night’s job. As the doctor who treats him comes to learn about his profession, we’re introduced to our first moral quandary; should the doctor refuse to treat him and save lives in the process?

This quandary is, of course, the entrée to a smorgasbord of dialogue demonstrated dilemmas that, while at times sophomoric, is a solidly written and engaging back-and-forth between ‘social roles as moral agents’. These social roles – doctor, priest etc – are slowly stripped away to explore the raw human underside of their archetypes. This is a spotlight on Satrean ‘Bad Faith’, or the mistaken adoption of one’s social role or job as their true and total identity. It’s a very focussed film, taking place mostly in a single emergency ward, but thankfully the characters we spend so much time with each have enough layers to unfold and a unique presence to offer the situation.

This tension between social roles and human desire forms one of the core complications of the film. When a heavily injured patient is brought in by the perpetrator of the injury, each character’s hands are tied by the constraints of their social role. The priest has his vows, the doctor has her doctor-patient confidentiality, and hitman Jack does nothing unless he is paid. For all the moral discourse in the film, then, at least one core theme of the film is not specifically an ethical question but in fact an existential one concerned with choice and agency in the face of inherited moral systems.

These questions are played out with deft storytelling and a disciplined narrative build up punctuated intermittently by tension, action and humour, sometimes all at once. Sarah Fillipi, Tana Smith and Sergei Dudkevitch join Steve Maxell in the film. Sergei is particularly engaging in a great performance as the loathsome Igor. It’s an impressive first feature for director Rod Millner (catch his cameo in the film as a drug dealer), who is reportedly working on his next project, ‘The Diva’, which asks ‘how far will a straight guy go for a million bucks?’

Take some time out and get immersed in this fascinating film.


Trailer: Youtube:

Full Film: Youtube:

Full Film: Vimeo:

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