For Hire (December 17/98)
My obsession with Joe Mantegna has gotten to the point now where I'll rent anything that he stars in. It doesn't have to be a big part either; a cameo role will do. Mantegna is, to me, one of the coolest actors out there, and I try not to miss anything he's in.
Such is the case with For Hire, a movie I'd never even heard of until I saw it in the video store. Mantegna stars as a controversial author who's being stalked by an edgy source who fears he'll go public, thus landing the source in a lot of trouble. Rob Lowe enters the picture as a friendly, down-on-his-luck cabbie who is on the receiving end of a very unusual request from Mantegna. Lowe is offered $50,000 to "take care" of Mantegna's problem, and since he's just been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, he agrees.
Sound convoluted? It is. However, for a while, it's enjoyable enough to watch. But after a while, things just start dragging along until the film eventually reaches it's inevitable, not to mention predictable, conclusion. Once For Hire reaches a certain point, even the most idiotic audience member should have no problem guessing what's going to happen next. And for a movie of this type, that would definitely be a bad thing. Movies like this need to keep the audience guessing throughout, otherwise what's left?
It is, however, worth watching for Mantegna's performance. He always manages to rise above his material, and this is no exception. It's too bad, though, that he keeps appearing in these silly made-for-cable movies. Don't get me wrong; some of them are quite good. But an actor of this caliber should really be doing more feature film work. This is a man who has worked heavily with esteemed playwright David Mamet, for crying out loud. Mantegna would do well to look at the career of William H. Macy, another Mamet regular. Macy isn't concerned with being the lead. Rather, he's concerned with finding quality roles, and if that role is a small one, so be it.
For Hire is about as predictable as they come. The performances by Mantegna and even Lowe (sporting a ridiculous bleached-blond George Clooney haircut) make this worth a look.