You're alone. You turn on the TV as not to alarm anyone in the house. You survey the room. You see your wife gracefully picking up a toy, clearly she must have a child. Probably toddler age. You see a toddler run naked into the room. Suspicions confirmed. You begin to focus. You settle in to watch a movie. That movie is called "The Virtuoso." You think the movie should be good. You notice the credits say that it stars Anthony Hopkins. You note that he is now a two-time Oscar winner, having won previously for his role in "The Silence of the Lambs." You remember you also liked him in that show "Westworld." You are inspired by your own knowledge of Oscar history and HBO. You turn up the volume. You crack open a beer. You wait.
The first thing you notice is that the film stars Anson Mount. You hear his voice-over begin to explain what is happening, what he is thinking. You start to place the vibe. You realize this is something often used in film noir. You wonder if "The Virtuoso" is going to be a good film noir story. You sip your beer.
You notice that the voice-over was not just to open the movie, but that it's continuing on even further into the film. You nervously take another sip of beer, but you remain calm. You're a professional. A "Virtuoso" just like the hired assassin played by Anson Mount in the film. A Virtuoso of film. You notice his first kill is pretty violent and overtly gory. You take a deep breath. You feel like this movie might have potential if the damn voice-over would just stop. You finally see Sir Anthony Hopkins. You relax.
Anthony Hopkins is terrible in this. You take a gulp of beer. Then another. You look at your watch. Surely this Anthony Hopkins monologue scene can't be going on this long. You wonder if Anson Mount's character will ever respond. You trust your instincts as a trained film critic and a movie-goer, knowing that when one character in a movie talks to another, at some point, the other character will talk back. You remember this is called "an exchange of dialogue." You wait for it, knowing it will come. You notice Hopkins is still talking. You observe that he is mailing in his performance. You wonder if the Academy will revoke his recent trophy if they see this scene. You begin to sweat. You reach for your beer, but the bottle is empty. You quickly get up to get another one.
You are in shock. You can't believe that you went and got a beer and Anthony Hopkins is still talking.
You settle in deeper into your chair. You perk up when the assassin enters a small town bar looking to investigate something called "White River." You wonder if the run-time of the film might have been under an hour without that Anthony Hopkins scene. You note the several different characters now on-screen. You see Abbie Cornish. You notice David Morse. You remember you liked him in "12 Monkeys." You take another drink.
You realize this movie is only getting worse. You can't believe that Anson Mount's voice-over is still being relied on. You wonder if this is the worst movie you've seen. You tell yourself you've seen a lot of movies. You tell yourself this can't possibly be the worst. You just can't think of any others right at the moment.
You notice you are more than an hour into the movie. You notice you are still, amazingly, watching it. You're the virtuoso of film critics, you think. Remember that. You find yourself laughing at how the voice-over switches between audience explanation to Mount's thoughts in a given scene. You take another drink. You find yourself wondering if "The Virtuoso" is one of those movies that is so bad, that it actually becomes good. You wonder if this was made to be intentionally bad. Your training tells you no, a certain level of bad movie can not be intentionally achieved. You realize that "The Virtuoso" has gone from bad, to so bad that it might play at midnight screenings across the country some day. You wonder if there will be a drinking game created around Mount's use of the phrase "White River."
You realize that "The Virtuoso" looks like film noir, if film noir was made by an alien who was just told what film noir is. You realize you wish everyone in this movie well in their careers. You realize this film is actually kind of harmless.
You have finally reached the end credits. You wonder why they didn't just have Anson Mount's voice read the names to you in a condescending fashion the way he talks throughout the rest of the film. You wonder if they had hired Anthony Hopkins for one day of filming or two. You rely on your instincts, which tell you that it was most likely one day.
You think back on what has occurred. You can only assume from the fact that there is no wife, no child present, that the wife most likely is in bed, and the child most likely was dressed at some point. You laugh. You realize how funny it might be to do the entire review of "The Virtuoso" in the style of Anson Mount. You realize it may be terrible. You realize that if it was, it would be fitting given the terribleness of the film. But you decide it's worth a shot.
After all, you are a Virtuoso.
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller.
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Abbie Cornish, Diora Baird, David Morse, Anson Mount, Eddie Marsan.
Directed by Nick Stagliano ("Good Day For It," "The Florentine," "Home of Angels").
"The Virtuoso" is available on Friday, April 30th, 2021.
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