Exactly the type of inner-city crime drama that HBO’s The Wire so expertly exposed as facile fantasy, Cost of a Soul is a patchwork quilt of clichés, from hitmen expressing poignant regret about their chosen careers to an in-demand briefcase with mysteriously glowing contents à la Pulp Fiction. After momentarily crossing paths while serving in Iraq, Tommy (Chris Kerson) and DD (Will Blagrove) return to their unnamed urban-slum hometown and wind up mired in the same underworld business they sought to escape by enlisting, with Tommy coerced into resuming his assassin duties for the Irish mob and DD struggling to keep his younger brother from becoming a dope peddler like his older one. Tragedy inevitably beckons, but not before writer/director Sean Kirkpatrick can stage obligatory confrontations between tough-talking hoods and furious spouses, and at least one mass execution set to DD’s impassioned jazz saxophone performance of the titular song. Kirkpatrick’s color-deficient visual scheme is sturdy, but it can’t compensate for a mechanical, unsubtle script that both compels romanticized criminals to bluntly expound upon the circle-of-death ramifications of violence, as well as goes for the emotionally manipulative jugular by saddling Tommy with a disabled daughter only so it might eventually place her in peril.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 18, 2011