It is inexplicable to me, but despite a steady stream of some of the dopiest dialogue The Big Hit is actually quite a clever and unexpectedly entertaining film, even though it is equally instantly forgettable.
Melvin (Mark Wahlberg) is a sensitive new aged doormat whose overriding desire is to have people like him. As in everyone. What complicates matters is that he is also an active member of a 4 man hit team and a proficient and highly skilled killer.
His crew mates include the cocky, loud mouthed and gung-ho Cisco (Lou Diamond Phillips), chronic masturbator – and proud of it – Crunch (Bokeem Woodbine) and pretty boy Vince (some male model). They all talk like in the inane slang and wannabe cool rhythm of clueless hip-hop idiots and look and dress like a boy band, and somehow this is part of the charm. They don’t for a moment realise that for all their posturing, preening and bragging that the joke is on them. Thankfully the film does.
So when the crew indulges in a side project away from their regular employer, a smooth and menacing operator named Paris, things go awry. The kidnapping target is young high school aged girl named Keiko, son of a wealthy an eccentric Japanese businessman, a man who they hope will pony up some hefty ransom moolah quick smart.
The crew immediately agree that Melvin should stash the girl until payday arrives, which is especially inconvenient given that Melvin’s girlfriend (Robin Givens) is already mad at him, and the home he shares with his fiance (Christina Applegate) is expecting houseguests in the form of his soon-to-be inlaws. No-one is happy, but the ever-agreeable Melvin allows himself to be bulldozed by both colleagues and lady-friends, leaving him and the girl in a pickle.
The pickle sours further still when it comes to light that the Japanese magnate happens to be best friends with Paris – their boss – and he wants the girl found safe and those responsible dead. Of course he sics Melvin and crew onto the case, essentially to find themselves, and the script kind of writes itself from there.
The Big Hit sounds silly. And it is silly. But it is also funny and relishes the simple things, I especially liked the fact that returning a late video could be a key plot point and recurring joke. The action sequences are actually quite well realised, with the intensity ramping up ever so steadily in the last 20 minutes towards a necessarily ridiculous – and admittedly satisfying – conclusion.
The cast are all fine in their one note roles, Lou Diamond Phillips is hilariously over the top, suggesting he should have done more comedy, and Bokeem Woodbine’s constant espousal of self-relief was also funny, and actually made sense for him…
The Big Hit knew it wasn’t Die Hard or Lethal Weapon, it knew it wasn’t Shakespeare, but it didn’t care. It knew it was a silly but stylish film about some clueless hit men, it knew it was mining a genre done to death, but it didn’t care. And by not caring it somehow managed to create a film that is unlike almost anything made before or since.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. I’ve seen The Big Hit a few times since it was released in the 90s, the one prevailing thought that keeps coming back each time is how unexpectedly entertaining it still is.