2 Days In The Valley comes with an all-star ensemble cast, a perfect soundtrack, and way too much story to fit into one film. It seems writer/director John Herzfeld thought this was going to be his big break away from TV movies and into making major motion pictures, so he was looking to provide something for everyone. Even IMDB felt the need to include the film in four distinct genres (comedy, crime, drama and thriller). Unfortunately, it’s not quite any of these.
Danny Aiello plays a washed up hitman trying to get back in the game; James Spader plays his client who just happens to be an ubercool hit man himself; Charlize Theron makes her first (credited) appearance as Spader’s girlfriend; Teri Hatcher plays an Olympic skier going through a messy divorce; Keith Carradine, Eric Stoltz and Jeff Daniels are all cops who stumble into the middle of the mess being made; Paul Mazursky plays John Herzfeld, er… I mean the suicidal writer/director of poorly made TV movies; and, finally, Greg Cutwell, Glenne Headly, and Marsha Mason all manage to get caught up in the madness as well.
For a mystery/thriller, the trailer for 2 Days In The Valley, gives away far too much, in my opinion. But then, perhaps that’s only because I’m seeing it for the first time after seeing the film.
As an aficionado of hitman movies I can say that this one certainly is unique. It blends the traditional ‘redemption of the assassin’ and ‘hitman vs. hitman’ sub-genres quite well.
The acting is excellent all around, though James Spader really shines while giving the phrase ‘minute man’ a rather unique twist. The chemistry between Aiello and Headly is absolutely palpable and Greg Cutwell does such a great job in his role as a pompous jerk that most viewers will probably want to shoot him themselves. In fact, most of the characters are compelling.
It’s the soundtrack, however, that bumps 2 Days In The Valley from a mediocre two stars to a ‘see it if you’ve got some time’ three stars. Since watching this film I’ve decided that all hit-man films should have a blues-based soundtrack. I’m not usually much of a music guy and tend to only notice film music except when it gets in the way, but the tracks by Erin O’Hara, Junior Wells, Scott Reeder, Wilson Pickett, Taj Mahal, and Otis Redding really make this film worthwhile. They more than set the mood, they carry you along with the story, particularly when the direction bogs it down.
Had Herzfeld been creating a television mini-series I think he may have been able to pull off the stories he was trying to relate here. But there’s just not not enough room in 104 minutes of film to allow us to explore the rich characters he presents. Instead, we get a few tantalizing tastes. Intriguing bits and pieces of both characterization and plot lines appear before us, grabbing our attention, only to then vanish into the netherworld while we’re presented with another compelling tale to enjoy. Even as the tale wraps to a close, bringing all the characters together again I couldn’t help but feel disappointment as well as excitement.
If you’re a fan of any of the outstanding actors in this film (and there’s plenty of them) than you’ll probably want to see 2 Days In The Valley. If you’re interested in learning how to blend a blues soundtrack with a storyline it would be a good bet as well. But if you’re just looking to fill a couple of hours with an interesting tale or two, then there are many far better choices awaiting you.
Best Line: “Now, I may be an asshole, but I’ve worked hard to become one.”
More from Danny Aiello –
More from James Spader –
The Complete Hollywood Hit Men Project Series-
- Hollywood Hit Men – Cinematic Assassins
- Hitman’s Run – 1999 – Eric Roberts
- 2 Days In The Valley – 1996 – Danny Aiello and James Spader
- The Mechanic aka Killer Of Killers – 1972 – Charles Bronson
- El Mariachi – 1992 – Carlos Gallardo