starring Anson Mount, Abbie Cornish, Eddie Marsan, Anthony Hopkins
screenplay by James C. Wolf
directed by Nick Stagliano
by Walter Chaw 25 minutes into Nick Stagliano's very serious The Virtuoso, our erstwhile The American assassin, the unnamed virtuoso in question (Anson Mount), receives a note inscribed with what appears to be a child's handwriting (it isn't, which is only one reason why it's funny) telling him who his next target will be. As the Virtuoso, in his own second-person narration, lays out some ground rules in a world-weary, Fight Club-aspiring way, we see him burning what is obviously a different piece of paper in the fireplace. One might wonder about the sleight-of-hand happening here: Is Virtuoso, recently traumatized by a job gone tragically (and hilariously) wrong, looking to screw his mentor The Mentor (Anthony Hopkins) by holding on to the Mission: Impossible message intended for self-destruction? Will this slip of incriminating paper be the "check and mate" of a twisty noir's mind-bending puzzle-box? Or is it a simple continuity error they either didn't notice or figured didn't really matter because the audience will be too dazzled by the clockwork precision of the compulsive, extravagant-to-the-point-of-self-satire script? You're smart. When we're done here, you tell me which one it is.