Remover (2001) – By Timothy Martinez

 Johnny is a Remover, or contract killer, who works for the mysterious Mr. C. One day he is involved in an automobile accident and when he awakens sometime later, he discovers that he is suffering from amnesia. Surprised to learn what it is that he does for a living and re-discovering many things about himself and his family, he comes to the realization that his life needs changes. While changing is something he is perfectly willing to do, his employer, Mr. C might not make it so easy. So, Johnny turns to his brother, a scientist who has devised a time travel machine that offers a one way ticket into the past.

Though it’s a short film, and at approximately twenty-seven minutes it’s only marginally longer than an episode of your average sitcom, Remover packs enough ideas for a movie twice its length. The narrative begins with an opening sequence that leaves the viewer with several unanswered questions. Gradually the story moves forward and eventually comes full circle, so that the mysterious events at the beginning are not only explained, but take on deeper meanings that one might initially guess. The film foregoes lengthy examinations of time travel or the technology that makes it possible and concentrates instead on the characters and story, letting the core ideas drive things along rather than technobabble.

One of the great things about this film is how in such a short time it can get the audience emotionally invested in some of the characters. By the end, when Johnny has decided on a course of action, you’ll be hoping he can pull it off before the forces arrayed against him can win. Additionally, the villains of the story – most notably a fellow Remover named Paul, will have you restraining the desire to reach through the screen in order to throttle him. Now, that is the sign of a good villain. The film is shot in black and white, which lends a certain “noir-ish” feel to the proceedings, and while on occasion the bright whites threaten to overpower your senses, its nothing that can’t be fixed by a quick adjustment to the brightness settings.

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