Triggermen (2002) Movie Review

“Triggermen” is directed by Canuck John Bradshaw, written by Brit Tony Johnston, and stars Brits Neil Morrissey and Adrian Dunbar, Yanks Donnie Wahlberg and Michael Rapaport, and Brits-as-Yanks Claire Forlani and Pete Postlethwaite. But since the movie is listed as being a product of Canada, I’ll save everyone the headache and just call “Triggermen” a foreign film.

The ensemble cast of “Triggermen” has Morrissey and Dunbar as two down-on-their-luck Brits trying to make enough cash to return home. They stumble across (well, actually one of them steals) a suitcase full of money meant for Yank hitmen Wahlberg and Rapaport, who have come to Chicago to kill retiring gangster Postlethwaite. Having found their luck suddenly turned, the Brits decide to ride the mistaken identity gravy train as long as they can, including living it up in a glamorous hotel on the tab of a Chicago gangster. Of course, this being a movie that is more semi-comedy than a serious Hitman Movie, hilarity ensues. Or at least, a couple of chuckles.

One shouldn’t go into “Triggermen” expecting all-out action, because the movie has none of that. Except for a shootout early in the film, and some murders sprinkled throughout, the film is relatively bloodless. Director Bradshaw and writer Johnston seems content to let the whole thing play out like a Sunday walk in the park. There’s no real tension or gradually building suspense. Oh sure, the screenplay attempts to hike up the stakes for the Brits-turned-fake-hitmen, but the film never generates any real will-they-or-won’t-they moments. Nevertheless, the film is pleasant enough that it never bores.

Donnie Wahlberg (“Band of Brothers”) has dramatically improved as an actor. If I had to make a comparison, I would say he’s a much better actor now than older brother Mark, who has been acting longer and in more movies. Wahlberg’s hitman-on-the-verge-of-retiring is well handled by the actor, and Wahlberg’s affections for Claire Forlani (“Meet Joe Black”) is probably the best thing about the whole movie. Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic, but I was most entertained when Wahlberg is wooing the beautiful Forlani, whose character happens to be staying in the same hotel as the hitman. And oh yeah, Forlani is also the daughter of retiring — and targeted — gangster Postlethwaite. Gee, I wonder if Wahlberg’s hitman is here to kill Postlethwaite, but doesn’t know it?

As that last sarcastic statement may have insinuated, the screenplay offers nothing new, and definitely nothing that one can’t predict from the opening frame. This isn’t an innovative film, unfortunately, and every now and then director Bradshaw’s visual flairs seem almost out of place. Then again, I liked “Triggermen” for its easygoing nature, its unhurried pacing, and some nice, although not overly outstanding, performances by the cast.

“Triggermen” isn’t funny enough that I would call it a comedy. If I had to pick a genre, I would call the movie a light drama. And although it had signs of being an action-comedy, thank God it managed to avoid that particular genre, which is quickly becoming the worst thing out there right now.

John Bradshaw (director) / Tony Johnston (screenplay)
CAST: Pete Postlethwaite …. Ben Cutler
Neil Morrissey …. Pete Maynard
Donnie Wahlberg …. Terry Malloy
Adrian Dunbar …. Andy Jarrett
Michael Rapaport …. Tommy O’Brian
Claire Forlani …. Emma Cutler

Buy Triggermen on DVD