Review: The Painter


Peter Barrett (Charlie Weber – “Panama”) was a CIA operative. He specialized in extra-legal killing of large numbers of other killers in order to carry out his missions. On one of these, he discovered that his wife, Elena (Rryla McIntosh – “Under Wraps 2”), another CIA agent, was also involved, but working from a more legalistic angle. In the process she was shot, they lost the baby she was carrying, and their marriage broke apart. Peter left the CIA and his mentor, Byrne (Jon Voight – “Mercy”), to retire to Oregon and paint.

Fast forward 17 years. Peter, now known as Mark, is painting away outside a town in Oregon. He occasionally has a beer at Ruby’s bar, run by Lucy (Leah Gibson – “Manifest”), and while there one day, is confronted by a young woman, Sophia (Madison Bailey – “Outer Banks”), who calls him by his real name. Later, she shows up at his house and discovers a painting of Elena. She claims she is the daughter Peter and Elena thought had died.

Just as their conversation really gets going, eight masked, heavily-armed intruders show up. They are quickly dispatched by Peter, showing that 17 years behind the paintbrush haven’t reduced his killing skills one bit. The intruders turn out to be CIA hit men. Many more will die before this ridiculous, childish tale of intrigue and double-cross is over.

There are a number of problems with this opus, penned by Brian Buccellato (“Art Exitus”) and directed by Kimani Ray Smith (“Horror Noir”). The first is the lack of any human character – every one of the principals is a caricature drawn from shoot em up video games. The only one with any real interest is a manufactured psychopath known as “Ghost” (Max Montesi – “The Last of Us”). Ghost is beating the unbeatable Peter until he makes the mistake of bragging about killing Peter’s ex-wife. Big mistake.

Second, as with other action (killing) films of its ilk – such as the much more clever “John Wick” series – the killing just never ends and the hero dispatches dozens with barely a scratch. And even when a serious torso wound does occur, our man of steel is back at it in no time.

Then there are the rogue CIA leaders who operate off-the-books projects involving dozens of personnel (expendable, of course) without the knowledge of higher ups. While I’m no fan of CIA clandestine operations, I don’t believe they occur in an operational vacuum.

Finally, whoever approved Jon Voight for Peter’s mentor, substitute father and CIA section chief must not have seen the man’s recent filmography. He ALWAYS plays the double crossing character in this type of film. It all began with his role as Jim Phelps in “Mission Impossible” and he hasn’t shown an honest face since.

There is an audience for films like “The Painter,” but if you are not in the 14 to 24 demographic, you are not it.

Note: This film is released under the “Republic Pictures” eagle logo, with the word “Paramount” below that. Republic Pictures was formed in 1935 by the consolidation of several “poverty row” production companies (Monogram, is perhaps the best known of them), and specialized in westerns featuring John Wayne, Roy Roger and Gene Autry. After various acquisitions beginning in the late 1950s, Republic was revived by Paramount in 2023.

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