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The Silencer

An FBI agent infiltrates a terrorist group, posing as a rookie assassin.

Genre - Thriller

Director(s) - Robert Lee

Writer(s) - John A. Curtis

Cast - Michael Dudikoff, Brennan Elliott and Gabrielle Miller

Blue Rider's Role - Bridge financier

Distributor(s) - Prophecy Entertainment, Justin Johnson Ltd. (UK), Highlight Video (Germany), Top Tape (Brazil)

Release Date - 1999

Synopsis - In this action thriller an FBI agent (Brennan Elliott) fakes his own death so he can infiltrate and dismantle the terrorist cadre Division 5. He resurfaces as a rookie assassin eager to study under Division 5's master marksman/assassin (Michael Dudikov). However, once he realizes the true agenda behind his mission, he must survive long enough to expose the truth.

Critics' Kudos:
Keith Bailey, "The movie is pretty well done, and the action is well-crafted. We've seen cars propelled and spinning in the air, but here it's given some extra flash with its nighttime setting and careful lighting. But one big difference this movie has from others is that none of the action sequences come across as gratuitous. All the action comes from drastic and desperate actions the characters are forced to take, whether it's an escape or a life-or-death struggle.

"The final action sequence is pretty impressive in that it doesn't resort to explosions and the like, but actually seems focused more on being as realistic as possible. When a gun is shot, for example, the firing noise sounds more like a pop than a brief explosion. There is also a feeling of real tension coming from both the protagonists and the antagonists; both groups of people feel danger coming from the other party, and are desperate both to survive and to persevere. Though much of this feeling is generated by the actors' performances in this sequence, a good part of this comes from what the screenplay has been doing all along up to this point.

"The screenplay for The Silencer was written with an atypical amount of credibility, not just for a B movie but for a major studio production. Everything that happens in this movie is presented in a way that comes across as surprisingly believable. Certainly, this is not the first movie to have a conspiracy plot that in some part involves the assassination of a president, nor one that has ties going all the way back to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. But in this case, the ties this plot has to these real-life figures do not seem labored or outlandish. They come more across as a-matter-of-fact, but at the same time reveal very human motives you can identify with, and thusly believe.

"Seeing a movie that presents not just a plausible situation, but is directed in a manner that has everything in this situation unfold as it could happen in real life, I often get a little more involved in what I am watching. Of course, the characters are an essential part of this 'everything' I am talking about. How often have we've been frustrated by characters (good or bad) in movies who, at key moments, don't do the most obvious thing or things that would quickly end the situation to their favor? The Silencer seems aware of this, since the actions its characters take are often the most obvious anyone would do, or else are given enough explanation so that we can understand what they choose to do them. Also, the way the characters execute their actions sometimes have some primitive but very believable emotion attached to them. Take the time when Jason gets his hand on a very important document, and he decides to let his adversary know this by sending a copy through the fax machine. He not only faxes the document, but adds a personal touch that is really not more than an exclamation of 'Ha ha, gotcha.' Yet if I were in Jason's situation, I must admit I would do more or less exactly what he did, to get extra pleasure from twisting the knife after its plunge.

"The characters here are very human - even the bad guys. As Dudikoff says at one point, "Not everything is black or white," and that's especially true with his character. At the beginning he seems to be quite the despicable type, assasinating an FBI agent and subsequently coldly and mechanically teaching his craft to Jason. But as more of his character gets revealed, he starts to drift into that grey area. Though he tries to maintain a stony facade, we see that it's starting to crumble after a long time in this business. We see that he is starting to hate his job, and is unable to stop thinking of the consequences of what he's done. He even has a girlfriend, though his near-desperate efforts to get her to stay in this on- and-off again relationship makes him almost a sad figure. Dudikoff does give a low-key performance that's appropriate for this character. Dudikoff does some surprisingly convincing facial reactions when his character is silently seeing or thinking of things so horrible that not even someone as desensitized as this hitman could keep a stone face.

"Elliott's performance is very impressive. For one thing, Elliott has the challenge of playing a character who must attempt to play someone completely different from himself. He pretty much nails it, and is not only able to give this second character a personality that can be accepted, but also adds in the panic and quick-thinking the character could not completely be able to hide when feeling his real identity is in danger of being exposed. The no-name cast gives equally strong performances in the movie's other roles, major or minor.

"But the movie's other 'star,' who really deserves mention, is director Robert Lee. He has a visual eye, finding some nice-looking Vancouver locations to provide some eye candy. Even better, it's really clear he knows how a story should be told. Every scene serves a purpose, whether it's to directly advance the story or give us details about the characters that serve a later purpose. Every scene is precisely the length it should be, with no padding and no lack of explanation. Though the movie is mostly talk, the situation is always changing, and your interest is kept up. Congratulations, Mr. Lee, for making a Canadian movie that defies the norm and is instead a real movie - and a good one at that.

"The Silencer is made by Prophecy Pictures, a Canadian outfit that makes well-crafted genre pictures (such as The Barber) on low budgets."

Ryan Cracknell, Apollo Movie Guide: "An entertaining hitman film. The Silencer is heavily influenced by some of the more successful crime films of recent years, such as L.A. Confidential, Donnie Brasco and Grosse Pointe Blank. While much of this movie is familiar, director Robert Lee still manages to create a film that is a decent watch. The film benefits greatly from strong visuals and good chemistry between the two leads, Dudikoff and Elliott.

"There are enough turns in the plot to prevent this one from becoming predictable. The Silencer touches on police corruption, hit men with consciences, betrayal and conspiracy theories. When the film ends, the final result is still enjoyable."

Viewers' Ratings:
As of March 8, 2007, of the 162 who rated The Silencer at The Internet Movie Database, women liked it better than men (with gals rating it 6.1 out of 10) and people aged 29 and younger liked it more than persons 30 and older, with people 17 and younger rating it 6.3 and those aged 18-29 giving it a 5.2.

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards:
Directed by Robert Lee (Freddy vs. Jason, Alone in the Dark, Ski School, Narrow Margin, Last of the Dogmen, Shadowchaser; nominated for Candadian Directors Guild Best TV Comedy Series Award for Big Sound).

Written by John A. Curtis (Ripper, Ripper 2: Letter from Within, Time Runner, Xtro II: The Second Encounter and Laserhawk).

Stars Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja, Avenging Force, Tron, Bachelor Party, Air America, Uncommon Valor); Brennan Elliott (Strong Medicine, Double Jeopardy, Flight 93, The 4400).

Cast includes Gabrielle Miller (Rupert's Land, Digger, Starlight; won two Leo Awards for Corner Gas and was nominated for four other major Canadian awards for that show, Da Vinci's Inquest and Robson Arms); Terence Kelly (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Walking Tall, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Mr. Magoo, Agent Cody Banks, The Changeling, Star 80; nominated for Best Actor Gemini Award for Red Serge); Nicole Oliver (Snow Dogs, I'll Be Home for Christmas, Pressure and 70 other films and TV projects); Peter LeCroix (Disturbing Behavior, Mystery Date, Free Willy 3: The Rescue, Mount Pleasant; nominated for Best Actor Leo Award for Noroc); Colin Cunningham (Best in Show, The 6th Day, Stealing Sinatra, Elektra, Antitrust, Zachariah Farted; five Canadian Leo Award nominations, winning for Da Vinci's Inquest) and Mike Dopud (Alone in the Dark, White Noise, I Spy, Walking Tall, Chaos, Bulletproof Monk, Rollerball).

Executive producers are Gary Howsam (Living Death, The Shadow Dancer, To Walk With Lions) and David W.G. MacKenzie (A Twist of Faith, The Boys on the Bus)

Producers are John A. Curtis (Ripper, My 5 Wives, Watchtower, Time Runner) and Evan Tylor (Stag, The Operative, For a Few Lousy Dollars; Leo Award Best Picture nomination for The Barber).

Original Music by Peter Allen (Cyborg 2, Crackerjack; eight major Canadian Best Musical Score award nominations, winning for Flower & Garnet).

Cinematography by Henry M. Lebo (Homefront, Nickel & Dime, Quantum Leap, Forgotten Sins).

Film Editing by Gordon Rempel (Peacemakers, Touching Evil, The Suspect; won Canadian Best Editing Leo award for Violet and was nominated for Andromeda).

Production Design by Randy Chodak (Red Scorpion 2, Exquisite Tenderness, Black River).

Release Data:
The Silencer premiered on DVD/Video in the U.S. and Germany in 2000, in U.K. and Hungary in 2001 and in Finland in 2003.

Internet Movie Database entry for The Silencer

Rave Review in Unknown

Trailer (in three formats)

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