I bought this film on a whim while browsing at a Barnes and Noble. I’m a fan of the Criterion Collection and when I saw that both Tim Roth and John Hurt were in this, I didn’t need any other pressure to buy it. I had never heard of it before and hardly has Criterion let me down.
Willie (Terence Stamp) is a gangster who sells out his pals in England for a free ride and a new life in a faraway village in Spain. He is nabbed by four Spanish boys who deliver him to two hit-men (Tim Roth and John Hurt) who are to bring him back for his destruction. Roth plays a brash punk that doesn’t really gel with the undercover nature of the mission and blows their cover every chance he seems to get. Hurt plays an unwilling leader who just wants to get the mission over with but gets into hang-ups because of Roth and the saucy Maggie (Laura Del Sol).
It is beautifully shot – arid deserts and long expanses of mountains, a raging waterfall and dirt roads. Music by Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and Paco de Lucia – a fantastic flamenco guitarist – and the beauty of the shots made me feel nostalgic for a place I have never been.
It was well worth the time – especially if you want to see Tim Roth in his early days (which, I will admit, was my first reaction). It’s also an early Stephen Frears film (High Fidelity, The Queen) so I was eager to see it.