The Big Hit

From Academic Kids

The Big Hit is a dry comedy-action movie from 1998 which served as an acting vehicle for Mark Wahlberg and also starred Lou Diamond Phillips, with appearances by Christina Applegate, Avery Brooks, and Elliot Gould.

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Synopsis

Wahlberg plays Melvin Smiley, a hitman leading a secret life as well as maintaining two relationships, one with the demanding and demeaning Chantel, who doesn't accept his work, and another with Pam, who knows nothing of his job and has picky, xenophobic parents.

Quickly it is determined that Smiley is much of a pushover, trying to appease all of Chantel's demands, even her most expensive wishes, as well as rolling over whenever one of his co-workers takes credit for his achievements. Melvin is constantly drinking Maalox throughout the early scenes.

Feeling underpaid by their work for mob boss Paris (Brooks), the hitman team of Smiley, Cisco (Phillips), Crunch (Bokeem Woodbine), and Vince (Antonio Sabato Jr.) decide to pull off an independent job, to kidnap the teenage daughter (Keiko Nishi, played by China Chow) of a local electronics magnate (played by Sab Shimono) for a hefty ransom. Unfortunately, the team does not realize that Nishi has recently gone bankrupt over his failed foray into motion pictures -- and furthermore, their boss Paris is the girl's godfather.

Enlisted by the group to hold Keiko, Smiley has to hide the bound and gagged schoolgirl on his property, away from his girlfriend Pam and her family coming for dinner. Eventually Melvin feels sorry for the girl, and lets her out for a bit, and they hit off a rapport, preparing dinner together and leading into a love scene reminiscient of the pottery scene from Ghost which is cut short by the girl's attempted escape.

Ordered by Paris to discover the kidnappers of his god-daughter, a nervous Cisco kills Crunch, and frames Melvin for the kidnapping. A team of assassins crash Melvin's dinner with Pam's family, leading to a shootout during which Melvin realizes Pam was going to break up with him under pressure from her isolationist mother.

Melvin and Keiko's feelings drift towards an awkward romance, and Melvin attempts to escape from the fiasco with her in tow, but an explosion during a fightout with Cisco cuts their dreams short. But their chances of running away together aren't entirely dashed...

Analysis

The movie is driven towards suspension-of-disbelief twists of events, nearly serving as a parody of the action genre if it didn't seem to take itself (or Wahlberg take himself) so seriously. It is also chock full of pop culture references (the kidnapping team gives themselves aliases from Gilligan's Island, the Ghost-like seduction scene, and even a token A Few Good Men quote for good measure), and the scenes with Melvin and Keiko aggregate into a critical mass of erotic ephemera ranging from Lolitaism to messy-play to urophilia. Meanwhile, the movie attempts to become a pop culture reference itself (Brooks' exclamation of "Bust some caps!" being the best attempt).

Nearly everyone in the movie seems to realize the absurdity and meaningless of their roles in the movie, despite a sense of tenacious desire to make them consistent and believable. Everyone, that is, except Wahlberg, who sincerely seems to be trying to prep himself for serious action roles, despite his character's otherwise humorous foibles. Perhaps he succeeds, given his starring role a few years later in 2003's The Italian Job.

Cast

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