THE HENCHMAN’S WAR

3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2013
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 75 minutes
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After completing a hit job for crime boss Cubby (Robert Leembruggen), henchman Joe (Rick Kain) goes rogue. One by one, Joe goes after his old associates in his quest to confront his boss, for reasons known seemingly only to Joe. Along the way, the criminal underworld is shaken up as other crime bosses see the rogue henchman as an opportunity to enact their own agendas.

Anthony Greene’s feature film, The Henchman’s War, is an impressive bit of crime world storytelling. As much a gangster tale as it is a mystery, the film reveals itself slowly. Just as most everyone is confused about why Joe has turned so emphatically against his former associates, so too is the audience left to piece together what’s going on.

It’s a slow burn, but it’s wholly appropriate. Also, while certain characters do live up to the hitman or crime boss stereotypes you might expect to see in a film like this, more often than not the characters are given more layers and depth. Cubby, for example, easily could’ve been another loud-shouting example of a man who is not to be disrespected if you value your life, but instead he’s a measured monster exasperated with the world he’s surrounded himself in.

Likewise Joe, for his skills as a hit man, is also not some superhuman example of an assassin gone rogue. He’s just slightly more skilled, or more lucky, than those he is up against, but you know it’s only a matter of time before his luck runs out. At the end of the day, he is still just a henchman.

Behind the scenes, the film is strong. Accomplished visual composition gives the eye something extra to appreciate, and the pacing, while deliberate, works perfectly with the story. The filmmaking is more than capable enough to make good on whatever potential the narrative suggests.

The Henchman’s War is a tragic tale, and when motivations and reasons are revealed, it’s more heartbreaking than anything else. This is a film that is all the more affecting and engaging because of its nuance and trust that the audience will stick with a mystery, without too much fanfare, if you give them a good one to explore.

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Posted on October 1, 2013 in Reviews by
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