This, right here, is the short film done right. If something was missing or left out of "Hit Man: Secrets Of Lies," then I am certain I didn't see it or know what that could have been. I absolutely loved this from start to finish and felt we couldn't ask for anything more than what we get out of this fantastic slice of noir from writer/director Elias Plagianos. From the superb job in the casting to the script and the shots themselves – this film has everything you want.
Full disclosure – I am a huge fan of Richard Kind and have been for years. So to see him take on a role that I would say was pretty outside of his usual realm was not only extremely awesome to witness - but also went a long way to prove what so many of his fans would readily swear by – this dude can act. He's got so much more range than he typically gets credit for. Plagianos makes perfect use of Kind's abilities throughout "Hit Man: Secrets Of Lies" and not only gets Richard to reveal more of the chops that we all knew he possessed - but puts him right into a role that brings out the best in him as J.P. Keller / Al Gordon. Making things even easier for him to find success in his part, Kind is surrounded by well-known cinematic talents of all kinds, including William Sadler as Jerrold Breen, Peter Riegert as Ed Vandemeer / Burt, and the legendary Karen Allen as Betty Vandemeer. While there are a couple of other players that help move the plotline along the way, essentially, these four titans of character acting fuel the film and propel it to greatness. Sadler's psychiatrist is spot-on. Peter's double persona is excellent. Karen's whole vibe is remarkable, and part of what makes this film as stellar as it is is how we spend our time trying to figure out what she does or doesn't know. As for Richard's part as the titular character, I love how real, grounded, and down-to-earth he made one of this planet's most potentially vile vocations.
The script is really the core element of "Hit Man: Secrets Of Lies," as pretty much any great film, movie, or show should truly be. When they're as bulletproof and airtight as they are in something like a short film, it's always tough not to feel like we'd want MORE of what we get – and if anything, I'd concede that I still feel that way even with how much I enjoyed "Hit Man: Secrets Of Lies." To be honest, even with as conclusive of an ending as this short film contains, the potential for this story to go on further from here is undeniably vast. As proven with megahits like "The Sopranos," we'd all be certain to tune in – that's the kind of massive potential that you'll find within the characters and dynamics of a tale like this. As far as I understand, "Hit Man: Secrets Of Lies" is based on the best-selling book "Hit Man" by Lawrence Block, and after watching this short film, I'm gonna be hitting up the local bookstore over here real soon, because like I said, I want a whole lot more of what I found in this story. That's not to say that it was missing anything – it's not – but it does feel like we're just scratching the surface of what could go on to become an even greater tale as we follow Kind's character through his unique daily tasks.
What I really liked about what we see onscreen is that we all feel the intensely understated tone in this film. We feel a genuine sense of dread and calm simultaneously, both of which play a role as the story continues. It's not a case of the viewer not being able to put the puzzle pieces together – I think that we actually all can, so it becomes much more about the mix of helpless despair we feel for pretty much every character involved in some way, and the pure joy of seeing a script like this delivered in-full. We can see everything coming, but we end up appreciating that we can – make sense? What we experience is the logical conclusion of incredible writing and a world filled with characters that don't break from who they are. Everything makes sense and ends up in the place it should be. Yet, somehow, thanks to the brilliance of how Plagianos directed this film, and the actors he's chosen to be a part of it all, we still feel a potent level of tension, mystery, and intensity that never seems to let up.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of "Hit Man: Secrets Of Lies" is the drama you'll find within it and how endearing Kind's character is despite the theoretical monster of sorts that he would, of course, have to be. That's what makes this short film hit such an enormous home run, even with all the other amazing things it has going for it, from the story to the supporting cast. I don't know what the plans are from here, but I know that I would basically kill for a little more of a glimpse into the world of J.P. Keller and that if there's any remote chance of "Hit Man" becoming a series, I want it, I want it, I want it! So I'm going with a wholly earned four and a half stars out of five; this was excellent all-around.