Black humor requires blackness to function. By that I mean that you can make death be funny as long as you still treat it with some seriousness; the humor of the situation arises out of the incongruity between the bleakness of the death and whatever absurdity you’ve piled on top of it, but if there isn’t any bleakness underneath then there isn’t enough incongruity for that to work. This film – about teenage girls who act as hitmen – tries to treat death whimsically, as a lark that this bubbly twosome sort of fell into as a way to afford expensive dresses from a pop star’s clothing line, and it doesn’t work at all as a result. It enters the uncanny valley of morbidity, where the treatment of death is neither realistic enough to be plausible nor rewarding enough to suspend our disbelief for.
Which is a shame, because the performances in the film are all credible, particularly in the scenes that abandon the hitman conceit. Both hitwomen do their best to straddle the tonal divide of the movie, especially when they are role playing their daddy issues with the older man they've been sent there to kill, but their charisma and commitment to the material isn't enough to make the material remotely believable.
The stand out performance, however, has to be James Gandolfini, who plays the target who is so depressed he doesn't care if they kill him or not. There’s a certain poignancy to every shot of him in the film because the confusion and sadness on his face not only grounds the film but it also serves to remind the viewer of his relatively recent demise and how crappy that was. while Gandolfini’s morose mug offers so much poignancy to the proceedings that you wish the movie around him was better than it actually is.
Winner: The Cat