As soon as Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy”) read Jay Zaretsky’s script for “Asher,” he knew it was a character he wanted to play. Perlman’s instincts were not wrong, as “Asher” is a captivating character study presented with an equal amount of ethos and pathos.
Asher is a former Mossad agent who has spent most of his life killing people for money. He lives a sparse, structured life where his time is divided between work and his interest in cooking. But he soon realizes he can no longer trust the comfortable world he has built around himself.
Against his better judgment, Asher begins to have feelings for Sophie (Famke Janssen), a woman he got to know after a meet-cute that would only be appreciated by the National Association of Hired Killers.
He knows the only way he can have love in his life is to erase the man he has been and become someone new.
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As Perlman has grown older, his face has become even more expressive. Perlman is one of the few actors who can play an evil character but still make him sympathetic.
In one scene, Asher tracks Sophie down at the dance studio where she works. Only a faint smile crosses his face, but it is enough to show a glimpse of the man Asher could become if he can survive.
Zaretsky’s dialogue is casual banter a couple might share on a first date. The only difference is Asher struggles with revealing too much about himself. At the same time, Sophie is dealing with her own problems that include taking care of her mother (Jacqueline Bisset, who is particularly good).
But the simplicity in director Michael Caton-Jones’ tale about a man looking to redefine his concept of right and wrong is powerful enough to carry the movie.
(At Town Center.)
Rated R for violence and language.