Hugo Weaving is one sexy man – who wouldn’t fall prey to his seduction? Man or woman, no one would be safe from his snakelike charms in real life or on screen. Casting him opposite Jack Davenport is just dangerous and enticing all at once.
Peter Himmelstein’s stylistically pitch-perfect film noir “The Key Man” stars Weaving in his debut American independent film and Brian Cox as two gangsters who seduce Davenport’s doppish insurance salesman character into committing insurance fraud in hopes of buy the Red Sox. Although a gentle and moral man, Bobby (Davenport) dreams of bigger things for his family and himself. He is the butt of jokes in the office, and his general niavities gets him into more trouble than not with his boss and clients. He is an easy target for the seductive powers of thespian Vincent (Weaving) and elderly golf buddy Irving (Cox). He delights in knowing these two men want him involved with their illegal use of the Key Man clause in Vincent’s insurance policy, and he follows them around like a lost puppy.
As with all film noir worth its salt, the plan does not go accordingly, and Bobby quickly finds himself in over his head with Irving and Vincent. He’s never quite able to give full trust to the two men, even though his actions speak differently. Once he realizes that there is no turning back, that what he has done will land him in jail, he can’t do anything about it. He’s trapped and his own greed for a better home, more material possessions, and a life to which he thinks he’s entitled has set his fate.
While the print screened ran a little too dark, the overall effect of the film was engaging. It is violent, gory, and vulgar, and often touches on the dark side of love and seduction. Vincent trusts his own charms too easily, and when it doesn’t work out in his favor his temper and aggression get the better of him. Irving is ruthless with a conscience that has only recently hit him with age. And Bobby is just a pawn in their game. He was never meant to survive unscathed, and the hurried pace of the film reinforces that fact. “The Key Man” is a valiant debut and an enticing amalgamation of ’70s exploitation films and ’40s noir.