Starring: Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Common, Geena Davis, Colin Farrell, Ioan Gruffudd, Joan Chen
OUR RATING: ★★½
Action thriller directed by Tate Taylor. The story follows Ava (Jessica Chastain), a deadly assassin who works for a black ops organization, traveling the globe specializing in high profile hits. However, when a job goes dangerously wrong she is forced to fight for her own survival.
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[Ava disguised as Brandy and is driving Peter from the airport] Peter: I had this meeting, and this passive-aggressive m*therf***er insinuates all this s**t about me. Why was I so blind to this f***ing p**ck who was suggesting I wasn’t very good at my job? Which I am, by the way. Ava: God love him. You know, Croesus once said, “Count no man happy until the end is known.”
Peter: Let’s make a deal. I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. And since we don’t know each other, we’ve got nothing to lose. We can just be real. Okay? No masks. Just the experience of Brandy and Peter. What do you say? Ava: Does this usually work? Okay. No masks, no bulls**t.
[after Ava pulls the car over and gets in the back with Peter] Ava: I didn’t come back here for a drink, Peter. I wanted to see what you looked like from this angle. Peter: You like what you see? Ava: Your pictures do not do you justice.
[as Peter goes to kiss Ava] Ava: I just want to ask you a question first. Peter: Yes, ma’am. You’re the boss now. Ava: What did you do? Peter: What did I do? Ava: Well, I don’t know when you did it, but I know you did something, Peter. Peter: What are you talking about? Ava: Why would someone not want you to be alive anymore? [she pulls out her gun on him]
Ava: [to Peter] You know, if you modernize it, what Croesus actually said is, “Count no man happy until he’s had a good death.” I genuinely try to give my subjects a good death when I can. But I can’t do that unless I know what you did.
Peter: Please don’t, please! Ava: Don’t beg. Just think of it as though it’s already happened, because it has. Now answer my question. Peter: Nothing! I’m a nothing! I’m a nobody! I just move money around for companies! Ava: So you don’t have an answer for me?
[after she’s killed Peter she calls Duke] Ava: Confirmed. Subject’s closed. Duke: You sound a little off, kiddo. Anything to share? Ava: Nope.
Duke: Nothing to report? Ava: I got to get a new set of wigs. I don’t know if they’ve shrunk, or my head’s grown.
Duke: Any hiccups? Ava: You can stop worrying about me now. Duke: I’ll stop worrying when I stop worrying.
Duke: How’s the mind? Ava: Clear. Fine. Duke: You don’t sound clear. Ava: Shut up. Duke: Or fine. Ava: Just please shut up. I’m just still in it, that’s all.
Duke: Did you close this subject with dignity? Ava: Yep. Duke: Was management compromised? Ava: Nope. Duke: Then move the f*** on.
Duke: I’ll call you if you don’t call me. Keep your head down and your powder dry, kiddo. Ava: Head down, powder dry. Got it.
[referring to Judy relationship with Michael] Ava: So that’s still happening, huh? Judy: I’m sorry, okay? Ava: You’re my f***ing sister. Judy: Yeah, and you f***ing left! It happened. I haven’t seen you for eight years! Ava: I called you. Judy: Yeah, every six months, for you to deflect all our questions about where the f*** you are! You just quit drinking, disappeared, and left me holding all these bags of s**t. I liked you better when you were a drunk. Ava: Nice.
[as Ava and Judy are vising their mother, Bobbi, in hospital] Bobbi: I would have thought maybe you’d be shocked to see me this old, considering you haven’t laid eyes on me in such a long time. Ava: You look exactly the same age. It’s really great work. Judy: Come on, Ava. Bobbi: Thank you, Ava. But really, it’s just my moisturizer. It’s on the shelf in the bathroom if you want to grab some for yourself.
Bobbi: Your hair looks terrible. Ava: Thank you. Bobbi: Well, it just sits there like, meh. You could wear it with some style. You’re not in the army anymore. Ava: Well, I don’t have anyone to impress.
[to Ava, referring to the next assassination job] Duke: So this one could be tricky. The approach should be flirty but classy. Anything aggressive is going to scare the General off.
[after she’s given the general a lethal injection] Ava: You did something bad. Right? They wouldn’t have sent me if you hadn’t. I wish I knew what it was.
[after the general’s killing went wrong from bad intel] Ava: Who was responsible? Duke: Well, let’s say for the purposes of this conversation, it’s my fault. I’m supposed to get you in and out safely. I failed. I’m sorry, darling.
Ava: It was meant to look like natural causes. I can do natural causes. Duke: I know you can. Ava: I can do an accident. I can do gentle. Duke: I know.
Ava: Duke, if you’re going to close me, just do it now. Duke: Management knows it’s not your fault.
Duke: Ava, don’t tell me you’ve been asking the subjects what they did wrong again. We’re not going to survive another episode of that. Have you been using again? Ava: No.
Duke: You’re an addict. Do you remember what that behavior led to last time? Ava: Yeah. Duke: The hospitalization of three wait staff because they… Ava: It’s not like that this time. It’s just, sometimes I just want to know why I’m closing somebody. Duke: Who gives a s**t? You’re client-facing. You’re not a member of the parole board, or a prison shrink. You’re there to get the SignEasy on the toe tag. Yours is not to reason why, yours is to do or die.
Duke: You know, I’m not going to be able to protect you a second time. Ava: Duke. I’m good. Alright? I promise you.
Ava: My father died. Duke: I know. Ava: You didn’t kill him, did you? Duke: Okay. [Ava laughs]
[during her AA meeting] Ava: About ten years ago, at my most f***ed up, I caught my dad having an affair. And I told him that if he didn’t tell mom, that I was going to do it myself. So, he cried. And he promised me that he would tell her about it. But what he did instead was tell her that he caught me stealing money from his wallet. He said that I tried to blackmail him into giving me a thousand dollars, and that if he wouldn’t do it, that I would make up a story about him having an affair.
[continuing her story at the AA meeting] Ava: I was a total alcoholic addict piece of s**t at the time, who had been caught stealing money for drugs, so naturally, she believed him. I don’t blame her. But him, the look on his face when she was confronting me about it. It was like he was amused for using me to save his a**. I couldn’t get through that day without using. Made me want to kill him. Oh, I f***ing fantasized about it. And I knew that if I didn’t leave immediately, that I would. So, I left and I joined the army. When I heard he was dead, I knew it was safe to come back. That’s all I got.
[referring to Ava’s botched assassination in Saudi Arabia] Simon: Goodness gracious me. Duke: That was a hiccup. Simon: Oh, that was more than a hiccup.
Duke: They say there’s no way it can lead back to us. Simon: There’s one way. Duke: No. Not her. I recruited her. I trained her. Simon: You recruited me. You trained me. I say she’s a liability.
Duke: She’s best of breed. There’s no way she can be ID’d. Simon: There’s a risk factor. Have you forgotten? Duke: That was two years ago. She had valid doubts about the ethical merits of a couple of closures. Simon: Valid doubts, the pursuit of which led her to have a f***ing meltdown. Duke: And she got back on track.
Simon: She’s talking to the f***ing targets! Again! You told me when soldiers disobey the chain of command, people die Duke: How do we know this? Alejandro: I heard her.
Duke: Saudi Arabia wasn’t her fault, that’s all I’m saying. Simon: So whose fault was it? Duke: My executive, my care and feeding, my responsibility. Simon: Well, thank you. Thank you for saying it.
Duke: She is the most gifted we have, you know that. Simon: Okay. She’ll take a rest. Let the dust settle. I’ll re-engage her when the time is right. Duke: That’s the best decision. Simon: It’s your decision, Duke. Just letting you make it.
[to Camille; referring to Ava] Simon: She’s always been Duke’s favorite, but she’s a loose cannon and a danger to the organization. I wanted her killed in Riyadh so he wouldn’t know it was us. But now. Call Alain. Tell him tooth or finger. I don’t care which. I want to see a piece of her.
Camille: What about Duke? Simon: Don’t you worry about Duke. Camille: But Dad… Simon: Listen. Five days, that man was tortured, and he didn’t give me up. Five days. Camille: But won’t he know it was us? Simon: It doesn’t matter.
[after Ava kills Alain when he tried to kill her] Duke: I know you’re angry. Ava: Stop talking. Duke: I just… Ava: You know how I always say stop talking and you don’t, and it’s part of our hilarious banter? This time I’m actually telling you, stop talking. [she shows him her gun from her pocket] Duke: You’re showing me a gun? You know what happened to the last person who showed me a gun? And the person before that? And the person before that, and so on, if you follow my drift?
Ava: You’re trying to close me? Duke: I know it may look like that, but honestly, and no offense, the company is not trying to close you. If they wanted you closed, you’d be closed. Ava: Uh-huh. And you’re sure of that because…? Duke: Because it was discussed. Ava: Right. Duke: Of course it was f***ing discussed. You keep breaking protocol. I warned you. Anyway, I told Simon you’re not to be touched. And if he wanted to do something like that, he would have to involve me, and kill me.
[referring to Alain] Duke: So it would seem that an exceptionally unlucky junkie tried to mug you. Ava: You don’t believe that, Duke. Duke: Uh, because operatives with black arts combat training can’t be addicts? I know you don’t trust anybody. But I’m not anybody. So, I’m going to take my hands out of my pockets. I’m going to put them up like this. I’m going to step toward you, place them on your shoulders in a comforting, but firm, fatherly manner, and I’m going to ask you. Are you sure you don’t want me to hang around for a few days, keep an eye on you? Ava: I came here to get a break from you, remember?
[after Ava’s dinner with Judy and Michael doesn’t go well] Michael: You don’t get to come in here and try to fix everything. Okay? You don’t get to be that person. [pause] Michael: Sorry. Ava: I’m the one who should apologize. I left without saying goodbye. Michael: You did.
[after Judy comes to Ava looking for Michael] Ava: I know you don’t trust me. I know I let you down and disappeared. But I’m here now. Please, just talk to me. Judy: It’s happened before. Sometimes he doesn’t come home from… Ava: Come home from where? [Judy doesn’t answer] Ava: When did he start gambling again? Judy: He never stopped.
[after Ava finds Michael at a gambling den run by Toni] Toni: I found this pretty thing outside my door half-dead with a needle stuck between her toes. Ava: A lot has changed. Toni: I can see that. And she’s not a thankful person. I cleaned her up, let her live on my sofa. And then she took my rabbit’s foot. Now she thinks she can take him again. Ava: Cash him out. He’s got someplace he’s got to be. Toni: That someplace isn’t with you anymore, is it?
[after Ava beats down Toni’s people to rescue Michael] Toni: Who taught you those slick moves back there? You always were a quick study though, weren’t you? You had everyone’s number, right?
Toni: You can get out now. It’s tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that you need to worry about. Ava: How much? Toni: I don’t care about the money. Ava: Let’s pretend for a second that you do. How much does he owe you? Toni: Seventy five, give or take. Ava: Give me thirty-six hours. You don’t f*** with him. Toni: That’d be mighty magnanimous of me. You got a lot of f***ing nerve. Ava: I guess we both do.
[referring to her fighting skills] Michael: All the stuff you was doing. Who the f*** is in front of me right now? Wonder Woman? Ava: I started studying martial arts when I was in rehab. Michael: No. No. Don’t give me the story you give everybody else. You tell me the truth. Or get the f*** out of my face. [Ava doesn’t reply and starts to walk away] Michael: Oh, it’s like that now?
[referring to his gambling] Michael: Look, I’m just trying to get out of debt. Ava: You do realize the number’s meant to get smaller, right? Michael: No s**t.
Michael: Just what have you been up to, Cakes? Ava: Don’t call me that. I’m not that person anymore. Michael: Oh, yes, you are. You’ll always be Cakes to me. I asked you to marry me, and you said yes. And then you just disappear for eight f***ing years! Ava: I made a mistake with my family and I had to get away from it. Michael: You couldn’t talk to me about it?
[as Ava tries to comfort him] Michael: I’m not yours anymore. Ava: So you’re happy. [referring to Judy] Michael: I asked her to marry me. And she said yes. [looking visibly upset, Ava turns and walks off] Michael: Ava. Ava!
Duke: So, Saudi Arabia wasn’t an error, was it? You set her up, you wanted her to get killed, right? Simon: I underestimated her. Duke: That was an error. Simon: I can see that now.
Simon: [to Duke] I really didn’t want to put you in the position of having to sanction the kill, which you would have had to have done. The buck stops with me now. I got to make the hard calls. You taught me this. You’re not my superior officer anymore. Now, if that causes you any discomfort, Jesus, I’m sorry. But get the f*** over it. This isn’t like the war. There are no sides. This is business, and it’s brutal. And I know you like Ava. I wanted to spare your feelings. Rely on your understanding afterwards, you know?
Duke: You need to rescind the kill order. Simon: You know I can’t do that. Duke: Sure you can. [he points his gun at Simon, but Camille shows up and point her gun at Duke]
Ava: Ma, I have to talk to you about something. Bobbi: You should choose carefully what you tell me, Ava. Because you can’t un-say it, and I can’t un-hear it. And I would love to believe that you work at the United Nations, honey, I really would. Ava: I’m sorry.
Bobbi: [to Ava] I knew who your father was when I married him. I didn’t want to look at that part of him, so I focused on the half of him that made me happy, and I ignored the half of him that broke my heart. If I’d have called him out then for screwing around, it’d be not only for his betrayal, it’d be because he lied about his daughter to save his own a**. And, well, any decent mother would have to leave the man then, right?
[to Ava; referring to her father] Bobbi: I was scared to be alone. I chose him over you. That’s why I didn’t want to talk to you. I dreaded you calling every six months, because you knew what I’d done. Whatever it is, whatever it is that you’ve been hiding, I don’t care. Because I can see in your eyes that it’s given you a strength. You would never do to your child what I did to mine. I can see, you are not scared. And that makes me very proud.
[after Simon has Duke beaten and tied up] Simon: And I’m going to go to Boston. Take care of Ava myself. Duke: Mm. Good luck. Simon: Is there anything you’d like me to say to her before I put her in the earth? Duke: Well, tell her I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there to watch her cut your heart out. Simon: [laughs] Will do. [Simon then videos Duke as he throws him in the river water to drown]
[Simon calls Ava] Simon: Hello, Ava. I’m Simon. Did Duke ever tell you about me? [Ava doesn’t reply] Simon: No? Well, I’m not surprised. I was his first protégé. Broke him in for you, so to speak. I always said about Duke, if he didn’t teach me everything I know, he certainly taught me all the useful s**t. Ava: Well, I never f***ing heard of you, man, so what do you want? Simon: I just killed him because of you. Ava: If that’s true, Simon, I’m going to f***ing kill you. Simon: [laughs] I imagined you’d say that. Duke asked me to tell you, he’s sorry he won’t be there to watch you cut out my heart. [he ends the call, then sends her the video footage of him killing Duke]
[after Ava goes to Judy’s house and starts kissing Michael] Ava: Come away with me. Michael: What? Ava: Come with me. Michael: Come with you where? Ava: I don’t know. Just go away together. Go someplace where nobody can find us. Michael: Judy’s pregnant. We weren’t even trying. We just found out.
[after Ava goes to Toni’s den, clears the place out and Toni starts beating her] Ava: I asked Michael to run away with me. Do you believe that, Toni? My own sister’s fiancé. I didn’t even think about the consequences for Jude. I’ve never told anyone this, but I’ve been paid to kill forty-one people. And even after all that, it wasn’t until I did that to my sister, that I really knew what I was capable of.
[as Ava overpowers Toni] Ava: I know my secret’s safe with you. [she stops herself from killing Toni and tosses a bag of money at her] Ava: Now we’re square. It’s paid. Never ever bother my family again. We’re done now.
[after Simon goes to kill Ava in her hotel room] Simon: It’s a lovely morning for it, Ava. I see you took a trip to the minibar. What would Duke say?
[as they are fighting each other] Ava: You know what, Simon? Simon: Shut up, babe. Ava: Oh, that’s right. You don’t like it when I talk to my subjects, do you? But this time I know what you did.
[after they’ve beat each other up] Ava: “Count no man happy…” Simon: “Until the end is known.” Ava: Yeah. Simon: Yeah, Duke made me read all that Greek s**t too. I see why he liked you so much, Ava. You’ve got moxie. If I see you again, I will f***ing kill you. [Simon walks out of the hotel as the alarms go off]
[after Ava follows Simon and shoots him] Simon: My family. Ava: I have no interest in them. Simon: I do understand that if you wanted to take your time with this. [Ava points her gun at him] Ava: Count of five? Simon: Why not? Ava: One. [she then shoots Simon in the head, killing him]
[after Ava gives Judy and Michael access to an offshore bank account and tells them to get out of the country] Ava: I need to you to do exactly what I’m telling you to do. Judy: What? What is going on? Why would I do that? Ava: Because I need you to take care of the family the way I was never able to. Alright? [she embraces Judy] Ava: You’re a momma now. Okay? You need to take care of your baby. I could never make him as happy as you obviously do.
[as Ava turns to leave] Judy: Ava. Who are you? Ava: Nobody that you want your child to know.
[last lines; from the letter Michael gives Ava from Duke] Duke: “Count no man is happy until his end is known.” What Simon would call all that Greek s**t. It’s not until you know how someone dies that you know what really mattered to them. What they cared about, what they’d sacrifice for. What they would die for. Who they loved, and who loved them in return. We don’t have much control over our lives. But our end? Sometimes we write that story. If you’re getting this, you know my end. I’ve never been happier. [we see Camille following Ava as she leaves Judy’s place]
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