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Review: ‘Ashby’ wastes Mickey Rourke, strong support cast

Looking like a dissipated country singer and speaking his lines with wry dignity, Mickey Rourke gives the modest “Ashby” its best hope to entertain.

As the titular character, a regret-filled CIA assassin with simple pleasures, a terminal medical diagnosis and scores to settle, he’s a screenwriter’s fantasy given rough, human charm by the star, still one of those actors who can make you see what he sees whenever he closes his eyes.

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The problem, however, is that as artificially devised by writer-director Tony McNamara, Ashby’s been buddied with new-kid-in-town neighbor Ed (Nat Wolff), a snarky high school outsider with an assignment to get to know an old person. It’s a quirky life-lessons setup that, while occasionally earning deadpan laughs, tries for but never achieves Wes Anderson’s patented mixture of the archly witty and the sneakily emotional.

Rourke and Wolff certainly have chemistry, and Sarah Silverman (as Ed’s concerned single mom) and Emma Roberts (as Ed’s potential girlfriend) provide solid support on the edges. But the humor never feels aimed in any particular direction, and plot strands — involving Ed joining the football squad and Ashby getting violent revenge on his employers — simply refuse to coalesce.

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“Ashby”

MPAA rating: R for language, sexual material, violence.

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle’s NoHo 7, North Hollywood.


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