Thursday, January 04, 2024

The Painter, Co-Starring Jon Voight

Peter Barrett was raised to be a super-hearing man of action, sort of like a Daredevil with sight. How did he use those powers? That became a point of contention for the CIA assassin, who resigned after an assignment inadvertently led to the death of his unborn daughter. He is therefore quite surprised when the daughter he thought never lived comes looking for his help in Kimani Ray Smith’s The Painter, which opens tomorrow in theaters.

After the tragic death of his own parents, Barrett was adopted by CIA bigwig Henry Byrne, who sponsored the cutting-edge treatment. The young’s boy’s overwhelmingly sensitive hearing was driving him insane, but Byrne helped him learn to filter and harness it. Naturally, his powerful hearing gives him an edge in the field. No uncocking of a gun goes without his notice. Unfortunately, some wires got crossed in the agency, when Byrne sent Barrett to kill the asset his wife Elena had turned. Tragically, the pregnant “El” was shot in the crossfire.

Unfortunately, the bullet also killed their relationship. Subsequently, Barrett retired to Oregon, largely withdrawing from life, except for his work as a painter—a fine artist, rather than a house-painter. He is skeptical when his surprise daughter turns up on his doorstep, but the agency hit squad following her forces him to revert to his old ways.

Compared to
The Painter, The Bricklayer is the second coming of John Wick. Renny Harlin’s film also presents a more nuanced perspective on the CIA. It is not all good, but it is not all bad either. In contrast, screenwriter Brian Buccellato portrays the Agency as irredeemably evil, through and through. The Painter is an example of why American films are so frustratingly shortsighted. In effect, they serve as anti-American propaganda in the international market. Why wouldn’t foreign nations think the U.S. is evil when filmmakers like Smith and Buccellato tell them so. In contrast, Chinese propaganda films celebrate the CCP and the PLA, while concurring with films like The Painter, with regards to the CIA.

Unfortunately, the action sequences in
The Painter are not even close to be being sufficiently impressive to compensate. It is mostly just standard issue shootouts, punctuated by shots of Barrett perking up his ears like a dog.

As played by Charlie Weber, Barrett is also a usually dull action hero. Marie Avgeropoulos is decently villainous as Byrne’s psycho protégé Naomi Piasecki, but her conspicuously reckless behavior should have aroused more suspicion in her lieutenant, “Agent” Kim. Regardless, Jon Voight chewing the scenery as old man Byrne is really the only part of
The Painter that is fun to watch.

The Painter manages to be boring and deeply troubling at the same time. It disrespects the sacrifice of all the CIA Officers (they are not called agents) who gave their lives for their country, without giving us any thrills or memorable spectacle in return. Not recommended, The Painter releases tomorrow (1/5) in theaters.