As much as I love living in a time where big-budget blockbusters rule the roost, there’s a negative side to our current cinematic climate. Namely that other, smaller films can get lost in the shuffle. Yes, even with all the streaming capabilities we have, this still happens. An example of this is the adult crime-drama, Asher which stars and is produced by Ron Perlman and his production company, Wing & A Prayer Pictures. A film which, according to Pearlman, he’s wanted to make for over a decade.
This film tells the story of a hitman named Asher (Ron Perlman) whose age may be getting the best of him. At one time, he was the go-to-guy in his particular line of work. However, younger contract killers are now taking all the hits. As a result, the aging assassin has spare time in which he takes up a romantic relationship with a beautiful ballet instructor named Sophie (Famke Janssen). Alas, Asher’s business clashes with his pleasure when he chooses to take on an unorthodox hit.
If you’re looking for an action flick in which a badass hitman sprays a barrage of bullets, spilling the blood of his enemies, that’s not what this movie is going to give you. (Although, Perlman cannot help but own his on-screen tough-guy persona.) To the contrary, Asher provides the audience with, something we seldom are treated to anymore. A steadily-paced crime-drama that is also a character study. For much of its runtime, this movie is very much a “Days in the life” type picture. The film takes it’s time, all while building up the stakes of a final job. Therefore, we get violence and action, but in dribs-and-drabs.
I’ve been a fan of Ron Perlman ever since I first saw him as Johner in Alien: Resurrection (1997) when I was 11. Over the years, Perlman has built a highly-successful career. One in which he seamlessly traverses back-and-forth from supporting character actor, such as in Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014) and leading man, ala Hellboy. It’s no surprise that Perlman wanted to get Asher made, as it’s a prime showcase for not only himself but the entire cast. In many ways, this movie, and its screenplay by Jay Zaretsky harkens back the character-based, actor propelled cinema of the 70s. All while being given pace and style, thanks to direction by Michael Caton-Jones.
However, this film does fall prey to being a subgenre piece. When it comes to movies about hitmen, there are only so many places you can go. Generally, stories about contract killers are going to go one of two ways. These tales will be action based, or they’ll be dramas which revolve around a moral dilemma of some sort. As a result, the way such narratives play out is somewhat predictable. This is also the case with the movie review. Though, I don’t blame this as much on Zaretsky’s screenplay as I do that stories revolving around assassins only have so many places to go narratively speaking.
Despite a certain level of predictably, I found Asher to be an enjoyable viewing experience. Granted, I’m partial to the kind of quite, character-based storytelling this movie employs. Even so, I think Asher deserves your attention if you’re a fan of such a narrative, crime subgenre or excellent cast. For me, Asher was a pleasant surprise that should be seen. As a result, I look forward to seeing what Mr. Perlman and his production company bring to the screen in the future.
Asher is Currently Available for Rental or Purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, & YouTube.
Asher Will Also Be Available on Blu-Ray & DVD on Tuesday, January 8.