Worthington worthy as drug-addicted assassin in 'Hunter's Prayer'

  • Sam Worthington brings a centered, world-weariness to his drug-addicted, professional assassin in Jonathan Mostow's flawed, yet well-crafted thriller "The Hunter's Prayer."

    Sam Worthington brings a centered, world-weariness to his drug-addicted, professional assassin in Jonathan Mostow's flawed, yet well-crafted thriller "The Hunter's Prayer."

 
 
Updated 6/8/2017 10:16 PM

In Jonathan Mostow's boilerplate action thriller "The Hunter's Prayer," Sam Worthington plays a professional assassin named Lucas, a hunky junkie who sticks needles into his veins every 200 fired rounds or so.

That's the major twist in an otherwise standard-issue film in the "conscientious killers who protect innocent targets from their own employers, who now want them both dead" subgenre.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Lucas, armed with a 9 mm. pistol and a deadly furrowed brow, has been ordered to kill Ella, played by effusively charismatic Israeli actress Odeya Rush, who could have a lucrative film career portraying younger versions of Mila Kunis.

Evil businessman Richard (Allen Leech, looking more like a snarky accountant than an uber-villain) has already killed Ella's parents for hiding $20 million he says belongs to him. Now Richard wants Ella dead to send a message to anyone else plotting similar actions.

Mostow, the Harvard-educated scholar who gave us "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," knows how to move action set pieces with quick cuts and handsome compositions. Mostow's lean, aggressive visual style is muscular and concise, but hampered by Paul Leyden's screenplay (based on Kevin Wignall's novel), trafficking in routine dumb and inept movie assassins.

Several of them decide to assassinate Ella not in an isolated parking lot, but at a huge party with 60 kajillion witnesses.

This hunter's prayer gets answered when Lucas goes up against a legion of professional killers utterly deficient in marksmanship. (One baddie, armed with a sniper rifle and scope right outside the cafe window where Lucas and Ella are figurative sitting ducks, fires -- and misses. No Christmas bonus for him.)

Chicago actress Amy Landecker (daughter of legendary WLS rock jock John Landecker) offers generous doses of duplicity as an FBI chief on Richard's payroll.

She and Scottish actor Martin Compston (ultracool as Lucas' ice-cold rival assassin) provide strong support for "Avatar" star Worthington, whose centered, world-weary killer pushes the needle ever so slightly into the sympathy zone.

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