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Assassination Tango

Robert Duvall scored a 1997 triumph as writer, director and star of The Apostle, in which he played a defrocked Pentecostal minister. Duvall wears the same three hats in Assassination Tango, but the results are disappointing.

As Brooklyn hit man John J., Duvall travels to Argentina to kill a retired general. It’s there that he falls hard for the tango and for the lovely Manuela (Luciana Pedraza, Duvall’s offscreen lady), who teaches him the dance. As expected, the tango seduces, and the scenes with John J. and Manuela have the improvisatory feel of the films of John Cassavetes. But Duvall missteps in trying to mesh suspense with a love story that also involves the woman (Kathy Baker) John J. lives with and her young daughter (Katherine Micheaux Miller), on whom he disturbingly dotes. Something about this ambitious film stays out of reach.

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