Does The Limits of Control represent a highpoint in Jim Jarmusch’s sometimes patchy career? No. Does it serve any great purpose or tell a life-changing tale? No, far from it. Is it effortlessly cool regardless? Oh yes.
Jarmusch’s laconic style finds a perfect foil in Bankolé’s lead: the “Lone Man”. So laidback he’s virtually catatonic, he’s a hitman feeling his way, with very little dialogue, to his next target, via exchanged matchboxes, a foible for ordering “dos espressos”, cameos from assorted familiar faces and a steadfast refusal to take any advantage of the beautiful naked woman (de la Huerta) who keeps showing up in his room.
Following instructions from his client – via a translator, in a drily amusing opening — the Lone Man makes his way across Spain, moving from contact to contact — including Gael Garcia Bernal, John Hurt and Tilda Swinton - until he reaches a wealthy American (Murray) and discovers the purpose of his mission.
It is, as you’d expect from Jarmusch, a meandering trip, laced with darkly surreal comedy and twisting the genre’s conventions into slightly bizarre shapes. Much rests on Bankolé’s shoulders but he carries it off with an aplomb bordering on the regal. It might not be enough for many to warrant the two hour trip but, for those who take their entertainment off the wall, there are treats aplenty here.