Pierce Brosnan's New Crime Thriller Fast Charlie Is Surprisingly Tender — And Hilarious
Come for James Caan’s final performance. Stay for a compact, stylish movie with a lot of heart.
If you just watched the trailer for the new crime thriller Fast Charlie, you might think this movie is Pierce Brosnan’s answer to Dirty Harry. You also may believe this is some kind of modern remake of Payback or another revenge-mob movie. But that’s not what Fast Charlie is at all. Yes, this is a movie where Pierce Brosnan plays a hitman who fights a one-man battle against crooked mobsters who double-crossed his chosen family of slightly less crooked mobsters. But what makes the movie special is the fact that it’s covertly a romance coupled with macabre over-the-top humor. In fact, Fast Charlie might be the best date night movie of the year, assuming you and your partner both love Tarantino-style action. No major spoilers ahead.
Based on the 2001 novel Gun Monkeys by Victor Gischler, Fast Charlie focuses on Pierce Brosnan as the titular Charlie Swift, an ex-Marine living alone in the Deep South and working for a low-key crime boss named Stan, played by the late James Caan. For fans of The Godfather, seeing Caan as a mob boss is brilliant, and if you squint, you could imagine Stan as a retired version of Sonny Corleone (had Sonny survived.) Brosnan and Caan’s scenes are some of the best things about the movie, and because Fast Charlie ended up being Caan’s final film before his passing in 2022, there’s something extra sweet about this relationship. Essentially everything in the movie happens because Charlie is very loyal to Stan, so even though James Caan isn’t the main character of the movie, he’s oddly the most important one.
In addition to being an over-the-top mob revenge story, there’s also an unexpected romance at the heart of this story. Morena Baccarin — everyone’s favorite secret Lemony Snicket mom — plays Maurice, a taxidermist with a heart of gold, and a perfect foil for Brosnan’s crusty and stoic Charlie. As soon as these two team up, you’re rooting for them right away. Their relationship is complicated, but the movie doesn’t make it hard to love the idea of them as a couple. Richard Wenk’s screenplay helps sell this relationship, but the real credit has to be given to Brosnan and Baccarin, who walk the line of realism just tight enough to occasionally slip into rom-com territory. If you’re not fully delighted by these two, you’ve become too cynical and need to rethink your life choices.
Inevitably, in a movie in which Brosnan has his finger on a trigger in more than half the scenes, a James Bond comparison is natural. It seems possible that Charlie takes out more people in this movie than Bond did in GoldenEye, but then again, the body count isn’t really the point. If we can think of Caan’s posthumous performance as a kind of alternate-universe Godfather, then yes, there’s some shadow of Old Man Bond in Brosnan’s performance here. If you loved Brosnan’s 007 for his wit and charisma, you will not be disappointed by Fast Charlie. Brosnan may be funnier and more dangerous in this movie than he was in his final Bond outing, Die Another Day.
If the ultimate question of Fast Charlie is about whether Brosnan can still carry an action movie, the answer is a big yes. At 70, Pierce has still got it, and unlike his James Bond years, he’s also got nothing to prove. In the first scene, Brosnan has his hands up with his pants around his ankles. He’s got cool dad energy in a big way, but at the end of the day, he’s still Pierce Brosnan. Even when he’s trying to be uncool, he’s still cool as hell. In this way for men over 40, Fast Charlie won’t be just a good time. Despite being a cold-blood crime movie, we can all agree that we could all channel a little more Charlie Swift in our daily attitudes. Fast Charlie will remind many men that, yes, it’s okay if Pierce Brosnan is still your spirit animal.
Fast Charlie is out in select theaters and on demand on December 8.
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