‘The Virtuoso’ is a thriller film directed by Nick Stagliano, who also penned the script alongside James C. Wolf. It stars Anson Mount, Abbie Cornish, and Anthony Hopkins in the lead roles. The movie revolves around an expert assassin who must perform one more job in order to settle the debt he owes to his enigmatic boss. As the film unfolds, we understand the protagonist’s ideologies and vulnerabilities, which give the narrative an emotionally resonant touch. Does that mean the film draws inspiration from real events and true stories to create a sense of faux-realism? Let’s find out.
Is The Virtuoso Based on a True Story?
No, ‘The Virtuoso’ is not based on a true story. It is a fictional story based on an original idea from the director and writer. The film is an action-thriller on the surface but has layers of character-driven drama that sets it apart from other films in the genre. If we analyze the titular character, it becomes clear that the character is designed to facilitate a completely fictional plot.
The title refers to a person highly skilled in an art form. There is certainly some credence to the idea that killing is a form of art, especially since the protagonist, who uses the word “Virtuoso” as a codename, displays some level of artistry and amusement in his job — killing people. The protagonist describes his approach to his job in the film, explaining he focuses on timing and precision while also valuing his tools and keeping them in top condition.
The approach certainly resembles that of an artist. However, this very idea also works in establishing the movie further away from reality. Highly skilled assassins are a common archetype used in action-thriller films, and the over-the-top nature of their skills strictly belongs in the realm of fiction. Director Nick Stagliano spoke about the conceptualization of the film in an interview with the Motion Picture Association. Stagliano, who is returning to the director’s chair after a decade since his last release, called the movie an extension of his previous film ‘Good Day for It,’ which features similar character archetypes and settings.
He said, “In Good Day for It, it’s about a guy that everybody felt was a bad guy who comes back to town at the wrong time. It’s a ticking-clock thriller, and it turns out that he was actually a good guy. I said to James, what if that guy comes back to that diner, only he’s a bad guy? It’s rare to start with your hero being a bad guy in a kind of elevated thriller character piece.”
From this point of genesis, the concept developed into a layered character drama that is, in a sense, a coming of age story, according to lead star Anson Mount. In an interview, Mount stated that his character goes from a being-set-in-his-ways killer to developing a conscience through the course of this film. It’s certainly a compelling arc for a character piece, and at its core, it is indeed relatable. However, the narrative approach taken to deliver this particular character development can only be found in similar genre films such as ‘John Wick.’
It is clear from the words of the director and actor that ‘The Virtuoso’ is a fictional story designed to explore a character’s internal journey that doesn’t fear tethering from reality in order to achieve its goal. The sense of realism induced by the film is mostly derived from the actors’ emotionally believable performances, noir setting, and desire to create a subverted coming-off-age story in the vein of an edge-of-the-seats action-thriller.
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