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Movie Review:

"Assassination Tango"

Before I review this film, whose title sounds like a code word you'd have used during World War II, I should admit that I nodded off asleep for a few minutes during the picture -- not because the movie was so bad, but because I've had trouble catching up on my sleep since returning from vacation to my normal lack-of-sleep routine. I did wind up missing the introduction of a character, whose appearance later thus confused me, though she turned out not to be central to the plot.

But anyway -- this film, which was both written and directed by Robert Duvall, who also stars in it as an almost-unrecognizable (with hair in a ponytail, no less) mob-style hitman, kind of downtrodden and out after a lifetime of doing this kind of work. He's finally found some happiness, marrying Maggie (the much-younger Kathy Baker of "Picket Fences"), and doting on Maggie's daughter Jenny, charmingly played with real-kid dialogue by newcomer Katie Miller.

Anyway, Duvall's character is sent on one "final" job to Argentina, to bump off a general. Here's where the script kind of fails us, because you never really learn the reason that the general is such a bad guy -- in the film, he seems like a doddering old man who loves to putter in his garden -- nor the motives of the group who wants to bump him off. In the meantime, Duvall has taken a liking to tango dancing, and of course, Argentina's a hotbed of it, and he winds up meeting and, mystifyingly since he appears to be happily married, romancing Manuela, a star tango dancer (Argentinian newcomer Luciana Pedraza, who speaks nearly flawless English).

The dancing scenes are terrific, but the film gets bogged down in the assassination plot and its being carried out, and as such never really decides what it's about. I liked it for the dancing, and also for the many gorgeous shots of Buenos Aires, a city you never see much of in films; it's shot like a real city, not Toronto substituting for Chicago as you see in so many current films.

"Assassination Tango" is in limited release, but if you have a chance to see it, it's well worth your time.

Just try to stay awake.

AYRating: ***