Rare is the onscreen hit man who isn't secretly yearning for something more from life. With few exceptions, even the most malicious contact killer need only commit an especially heinous act for his deep-seated feelings of emptiness to catch up with him. In Lee Jeong-beom's No Tears for the Dead, this transformative act occurs at the end of an ordinary job. Having just cleared a back room full of baddies (or totally upstanding dudes, for all we know), Gon (Jang Dong-gun) fires on a door and finds a little girl on the other side. She places her hand on the fatal wound, takes a few steps, and is dead by the time she hits the ground. Already a wreck, Gon is then tasked with tying up loose ends and offing the aggrieved mother as well, thus beginning his ascendancy to a slightly less miserable existence.
There's never much question as to whether he'll actually carry through with this particular deed -- this film wasn't written by Cormac McCarthy, after all. Played by Kim Min-hee, the mother ends up being a more intriguing emotional center than Gon; her agony is more credible and thus easier to convincingly externalize. There are more tears than the title lets on, and even more blood, but it's a reason to truly be invested that's missing from No Tears for the Dead, which is rarely any better or worse than serviceable.