Genre: Thriller
Director: Michael Keaton
Cast: Michael Keaton, James Marsden, Suzy Nakamura, Ray McKinnon, John Hoogenakker, Dennis Dugan, Joanna Kulig, Marcia Gay Harden, Al Pacino
Runtime: 1 hr 55 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Coarse Language and Nudity)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 25 July 2024

Synopsis: When a contract killer has a rapidly evolving form of dementia, he is offered an opportunity to redeem himself by saving the life of his estranged adult son.

Movie Review:

Apologies to Mr Christian Bale, Michael Keaton will forever be the best Batman in my humble opinion. While at times, he gets a shot at a great part (Birdman, Spotlight and The Founder), he remains mostly an underrated actor with just a single Oscar nomination.

For his sophomore directing feature, Keaton directs himself by playing a character named John Knox (sounds more like a placeholder name John Doe), an active hitman who has just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of dementia. It’s a matter of weeks not months or years before he lose his entire memory. In the meantime, his plan is to carry out one last hit with his partner, Muncie, (Ray McKinnon) and cash out his valuables with the help of his friend, Xavier Crane (Al Pacino).

At his end, he might have a concrete retirement plan panned out but one night, his estranged son, Miles (James Marsden) pays him a surprise visit and request his help. Miles has just killed the man that cheated his teenage daughter and he needs John to help cover his evil deed. A hitman father sure comes in handy at this point. However, will his sometimes disoriented and confused mind help in the whole shenanigan?

Knox Goes Away is geared towards a character study piece than a full-blown crime drama. John is a complicated character. A learnt man with PhD in both history and literature and an ex-military man, he probably knows more about life than the average person on the street. There’s no clear reason why he left his wife (Marcia Gay Harden in a cameo) and son, still it doesn’t take away all the engrossing aspects of the colourful character who also indulged in some weekly relaxing time with a hooker, Annie (Joanna Kulig).

The dementia aspect allows Keaton to commit himself to a performance that requires him to turn from a lucid, tactical hitman to a man who has no time to face his illness yet has to desperately resort to clearing his son’s mess within days. The end result is fascinating but never in an exhilarating manner that leaves you breathless. The premise might be high-concept on one hand although the pacing is mostly deliberate and at least 15 minutes too long.

There’s two committed detectives, Ikari (Suzy Nakamura) and Rale (John Hoogenakker) hot on John’s trail suspecting him for being a shady fellow and likely a murder suspect. It’s a subplot that doesn’t add much to the proceedings except the occasionally funny battering between Ikari and Rale. The great Al Pacino appears prob as a favour to Keaton delivering a reliable performance as always even his screen time is far limited than Kulig. And talking about Annie, hers is a nice addition to the final narrative, providing a nice decent closure to a man who loves his books as much as his gun.

The entire story played out as an old school thriller especially the frequent inclusion of dated fade out effect. Marsden might also be miscast as John’s son if you are the picky sort. It’s very much of a slow-burn yet you can’t deny Keaton’s talented efforts behind the camera and his highly solid turn as a troubled contract killer.

Movie Rating:




(Keaton steers away from the loud, popcorn action thrillers to deliver something a little different)

Review by Linus Tee


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