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Coldblooded

Rated R, 91 min. Directed by M. Wallace Wolodarsky. Starring Jason Priestley, Kimberly Williams, Peter Riegert, Robert Loggia, Janeane Garofalo.

REVIEWED By Joey O'Bryan, Fri., Oct. 20, 1995

A dry, black comedy whose style lies somewhere in between that of early Michael Lehmann and Japanese filmmaker “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, Coldblooded is a wicked little surprise from first-time writer-director M. Wallace Wolodarsky -- a hilarious gem with a slightly subversive edge. 90210 pretty-boy Jason Priestley stars as Cosmo, a stone-faced, directionless young man with minimal social skills who earns a meager living working as a bookie for the local mob boss. His pathetically dull life of eating potato chips and watching ESPN is livened up when he is promoted to hit man and finds, to his surprise, that he has a genuinely natural talent for killing. Despite this, he finds himself unable to shake a sense of overwhelming guilt and, in an attempt to relax himself, begins yoga classes, only to wind up falling in love with his instructor. As the pair grow closer and closer, Cosmo decides he must leave his murderous occupation behind and begins manufacturing a plot to do just that. Preistley, despite what you may think, is actually quite good, with his blank, desensitized gaze both hilarious and just a little disturbing. At times, his naïve but vicious performance suggests that he's channeling the dark side of Tom Hanks. The supporting players are even better, especially Peter Riegert as Cosmo's less-than-comforting friend and mentor (one memorable scene has Riegert confiding to his new partner: “Every night I'm haunted by the faces of the people I've murdered, I have nightmares about them begging and crying… but that's the job!”). Other cast members may not have as much to do, but each serves an important role in realizing Wolodarsky's darkly comic world view, and all turn in solid work. Speaking of Wolodarsky, he helms Coldblooded in a refreshingly direct manner, allowing a scene's quiet tension to slowly dissipate into nervous, giddy laughter. It's a style well-suited to Coldblooded, a movie that sneaks up behind you and tickles you in unexpected ways.
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