Shocking Twist: Hitman’s Fading Memory Unleashes Unseen Chaos in ‘Knox Goes Away’!

Michael Keaton, a celebrated actor and movie star, has no need to prove his worth. His iconic Batman stare at the most recent Oscars became an instant internet sensation, easily overshadowing the subdued presentation by fellow presenters Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. Keaton’s charisma and dynamic energy easily draw his audience into any setting, whether high-concept or grounded in realism.

As a director, Keaton finds himself drawn to the theme of worn-out hitmen. Fifteen years after his directorial debut with “The Merry Gentleman”, where he played a hitman given a chance at redemption through an unexpected friendship with a woman, he has returned to a similar narrative. In his subdued new film “Knox Goes Away”, Keaton portrays an aging assassin named John Knox, who grapples with a deadly neurological disease while trying to make amends for his past.

Of course, a decaying memory is a serious handicap for a man trained in precision, ruthlessness, and discreet escape. When Knox botches an assignment that should have been straightforward, leaving three casualties instead of one, he decides to put his affairs in order before dementia overtakes him. His targets, it’s suggested, are those who deserve it – drug dealers and the like. The film industry has always had a soft spot for hitmen with a moral compass. Our antihero is not only a former Marine but also an ex-academic who still enjoys philosophy and classic literature. A lethal intellect, indeed.

The complication in Knox’s plan to bow out from his dangerous life of solitude comes from a surprise visit from his estranged son Miles (James Marsden), who has just committed murder in a moment of justifiable rage. Knox now has to figure out how to keep Miles out of jail, a task made more difficult by his deteriorating health and a persistent detective (Suzy Nakamura) hot on his trail.

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“Knox Goes Away”, with its narrative of a doomed man, his weekly meetings with a stoic Polish escort (played by “Cold War” star Joanna Kulig), and a somber trumpet soundtrack, should make for an engaging film noir. However, the script by Gregory Poirier, intended as an homage to the stoic masculinity of a bygone era, comes across as more absurd and confusing than slick and witty.

The film also seems to have stifled Keaton’s creative instincts rather than ignited them. His directorial technique leans towards a straightforward, procedural approach, creating a mood that feels more like a slow-paced TV drama. Shot in a rather conventional style by cinematographer Marshall Adams, “Knox Goes Away” could be set anywhere, despite its noirish L.A. backdrop.

What’s more disappointing is the underutilization of a stellar cast. Marcia Gay Harden as Knox’s ex-wife and Al Pacino as a retired thief and trusted friend named Xavier are strangely subdued. Pacino, in particular, seems puzzled as to why he can’t bring his usual burst of energy to the screen. The suspense he delivered while reading from an envelope at the Oscars was more captivating than anything in “Knox Goes Away.”

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