‘Asher’ Review: An Aging Hit Man Finds Love

My own criminal days being well behind me, I could not speak to the real-life validity of the movie-world truism that professional hit men rarely live long enough to consider what to do once they reach retirement age. Particularly when aches and pains start interfering with the work.

Not too long into “Asher,” directed by Michael Caton-Jones and featuring Ron Perlman in the title hit man role, the hired killer has something that might be a heart attack while on the job.

The story of a delivery man for death reckoning with his own mortality could really be something. But “Asher” instead tries for the wistful and wise late-life romance. Asher, a former Mossad operative (or so it’s implied) who now operates out of a predominantly Jewish area of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, is helped by Famke Janssen’s Sophie, who lives near Asher’s intended victim.

The two find a halting affinity even as Asher hides his practices from her. Soon, Sophie blurts to him: “My mother has dementia. She asked me to kill her. Imagine actually … killing someone.” Awkward.

The performers, who also include Jacqueline Bisset as Sophie’s mother and Richard Dreyfuss as a voluble crime boss, keep the viewer hoping for the best. Caton-Jones and the cinematographer Denis Crossan aim for autumnal visual texture via many shallow-focus shots with diffused brown and orange lights in the background. Unfortunately the pace is so relaxed as to be meandering; and Jay Zaretsky’s screenplay is cliché-packed, as when Asher brings Sophie to his forest cabin with the words, “We’ll be safe here.”


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Rated R for violence and language and more aging hit man box-checking. Running time: 1 hour 57 minutes.

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