A Final Hit is the second feature length effort from writer/director RJ Cusyk and, despite him obviously having quite a nice cinematic eye unfortunately the production really suffers from a near non-existent budget. To put it into perspective, an extremely low budget film that inspired me to get into cinema in the first place was Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” which had an estimated budget of $230,000.
It had pretty much one location and was almost entirely comprised of stationary shots of dialogue from a core group of main characters. What we have here is an estimated budget of $10,000, multiple and varied locations with motion camera work, gunshots and a cast of characters easily in double figures. You must commend the ambition however it is hard not to be put off by just how cheap the film looks.
The basic premise is that a retired hitman, who now runs a small landscaping business after being injured on the job, decides to go back to hired killing for one final job as it is what he needs to do to provide for his family. It is a well-worn idea and one that has endless opportunities to draw inspiration from. RJ Cusyk must have seen them all. We have the wife in the dark who is confused all the time, we have the Russian friend who gets roped in because he “owes him one”, we have the mobster target who goes by the name of The Butcher, and we have various nameless thugs to make our way through.
I really have a lot of respect for filmmakers who work on a shoe string budget and that’s why it pains me so much to say that although the script isn’t terrible and some of the shots had potential it is the amateur acting, the jarring editing and the truly awful sound and voice dubbing that make this such a hard film to sit through.
I haven’t seen Cusyk’s first feature “Through the Devil’s Eyes” and I probably won’t be looking it up any time soon after this experience. It is great to have big dreams but a huge part of directing is working within your means and this could have done with either a budget ten times the size or a much more compact world to work within.
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