3 ½ stars
Pierce Brosnan has tried almost every role imaginable since hanging up his license to kill back with the 2002 James Bond flick Die Another Day. He’s done a fair share of action thrillers. Still, he’s also done westerns (Seraphim Falls), romantic comedies (Some Kind of Beautiful), family films (Cinderella), and even threw his hat into the world of comic book movies (Black Adam). Some of his choices have worked, and some have not, but except for those two miserable Mamma Mia movies, he’s always been entertaining to watch.
With his latest film, Fast Charlie, Brosnan finds his sweet spot and delivers his best performance in years. In the movie, Brosnan plays Charlie Swift, a fixer for an aging Mississippi mob headed by Stan Mullen (James Caan). As the story opens, Charlie is out on a hit with a young protege named Blade (Brennan Keel Cook). What seems like an easy job goes hilariously sideways when Blade tries to outwit his mentor and instead ends up doubling the body count and sparking a gang war for control of the city.
It’s the perfect storm for a man of Charlie’s talents; he is a fixer, after all, and soon meets with his boss to start developing a plan not simply to win but to wipe out the competition. He also has to explain to Mullen about Marci Kramer (Morena Baccarin), the young taxidermist and ex-wife of the man Charlie and Blade were sent to kill.
It sounds a bit overcomplicated, but veteran director Phillip Noyce (The Bone Collector, Salt) keeps Fast Charlie moving at a snappy pace so you won’t get too bogged down in the plot details, like trying to figure out how two old guys (Brosnan is 70 and Caan, making his last appearance in a film, was 82 when he passed away in 2022) can so completely dominate a gang of much fitter younger men. Maybe it’s the twinkle in their eyes or the sly grin in their delivery, but these two movie veterans bring an old-school cool to Fast Charlie that makes them ageless and timeless.
There’s more to Fast Charlie than a couple of cool old guys, entertaining plot twists, and plenty of well-choreographed fight scenes. There’s Morena Baccarin. A staple of the comic book crossover scene, with performances ranging from being the voice of Talia al Ghoul in the animated Batman movies from DC to playing Vanessa in the two Deadpool movies from the MCU, Baccarin also has an enviable list of non-superhero movie characters on her IMDB.com resume. Watching what she does with her character in Fast Charlie is great fun. She not only goes toe-to-toe with Brosnan in style, whether it’s fighting or leading the way in witty repartee, but she also gives Marci the substance that makes her character the co-lead of the story and not just the token woman up there for viewers on and off screen to ogle. Credit to Noyce and screenwriters Richard Wenk and Victor Gischler for not trying to force a physical romance between Charlie and Marci into the film. The way they handle their relationship is much more effective. And believable.
Chances are that Fast Charlie isn’t going to be on many Top 10 lists this award season; it’s too good. Noyce and company aren’t trying to push the boundaries of cinema or capture the attention of the Academy. They know the crime/comedy genre they are working in and wallow in it to a delightful degree. It’s refreshing.