Todd McCarthy‘s approving review of Fast Charlie is a little too flourishy in terms of tallying the shooting victims.

Opening line: “Rasty and nasty with a cherry on top, Fast Charlie is a down-home Southern gangster yarn with a staggering body count but a sweet taste awaiting the survivors at the end of the day.”

HE exception: “Staggering”? The actual Fast Charlie body count is four on-screen and eight guys total. No offense but McCarthy’s review kinda makes it sound like it’s competitive with Sam Peckinpah‘s The Wild Bunch.

In my 9.20 review, I called it “half of a laid-back, settled-down relationship drama between Pierce Brosnan‘s Charlie, a civilized, soft-drawl hitman who loves fine cooking, and Morena Baccarin‘s Marcie, a taxidermist with a world-weary, Thelma Ritter-ish attitude about things. And half of a blam-blam action thriller.”

McCarthy: “This adaptation of Victor Gischler’s 2003 novel ‘Gun Monkeys‘ is an inelegant affair that gushes hot blood all over the place but leaves enough room for an appealingly credible May-December romance to grow in the midst of the constant mayhem.”

Pierce Brosnan as low-key, gourmet-food-loving assassin in Fast Charlie.

During last night’s Mill Valley Film Festival q & a (l. to r.): Scott Allen Perry (songwriter), Fil Eisler (score composer), second-unit director Warren Thompson, book author Victor Gischler, director Phillip Noyce.

HE: I chose to focus on the Pierce Brosnan-Morena Baccarin thing because that’s where the soul and the nourishment are, and I chose to downplay the shootings because shootings are inevitably rote. Plus McCarthy didn’t mention the laundry chute sequence, Pierce’s gourmet appetites or the Morena’s freelance gig as a taxidermist…little quirks and character touches that stand out.

McCarthy: “Whereas senior movie mafia and gangster characters through the decades have tended to be revered — if only for simply having survived for decades — it nonetheless seems that Charlie Swift (Brosnan) may not get the respect he deserves from the bad-guy wannabees who populate the bayou country of Louisiana. Young hot-shot punks often think they’re better than anyone, but the fit, gray-haired Charlie knows the score much better than they do and some of the reckless show-offs don’t last very long.

“The way the first victim bites the dust immediately sets the darkly seriocomic tone for the entire film, and it’s an approach that veteran Australian director Phillip Noyce manages to more or less sustain no matter how gruesome and perverse any given situation may become.

“[The film] puts you in a position to either embrace [the violence] as fun or discard it as foolish. What tilts you in the former direction is the energy Noyce injects into the silliness as well as the kick that results from pushing the material so far. The filmmakers look to have gone all out to make something of this and it more or less pays off in its outlandish boisterousness.”

“The [Brosnan-Baccarin] scenes are nicely written. Despite the fundamentally preposterous nature of their situation, the actors invest their performances with a palatable sense of their hopes, desires and uncertainties. The result is a conclusion that seems both wish-fulfilment and not entirely implausible, even if, as Charlie admits, ‘In my line of work, it’s best not to have any long-term plans.'”