What kind of person makes the best assassin? Those most unlikely to an be assassin in the first place. This distinction of being a great assassin falls upon a deaf homemaker in Frank A. Cappello’s comedy-thriller Steele Wool.
Life is tough in the city of Los Angeles, and the quickest way to remove the obstacles to your success is to eliminate those obstacles. Steele Wool is the story of Daphne Wool (Cami Varela), who finds herself tracked down by a career assassin, Moses (Nicholas Ontiveros). He’s not there to kill her but to verify that she, in fact, killed his target, Daphne’s abusive husband.
With her friend, Tony Steele (Frank A. Cappello), by her side, the trio goes to the storage unit where Daphne stored her husband’s body. Amazed that Daphne was able to strangle him with her bare hands, Moses suggests that she would make the perfect assassin—because no one would expect it.
Daphne is just a little too eager to accept the new killer career and asks Tony to help her in this new venture. She now finds herself in the employment of The Boss (Jamison Jones), and The Boss sends her a list of deadly weapons she’s allowed to use, which are revealed to be everyday household items, like a steam iron, frying pan, and a paper clip.
“Amazed that Daphne was able to strangle him with her bare hands, Moses suggests that she would make the perfect assassin…”
There’s that old saying, “Jack of all Trades, Master of None.” I say this because Steele Wool tries to be too many things at one time. It’s an action film, a comedy, a mob thriller, with dramatic elements. It’s not that mixing genres can’t work, but what tends to happen, particularly with Steele Wool, is the sheer numbers tend to water down each component. It’s not a gripping action flick or hilarious comedy or emotional drama, but it needed to be at least one. At some point, I wish they took one of the elements and strove to push it to a level ten…comedy…or drama. Instead, the entire film’s tone stays at a low level five from beginning to end.
I think I understand what filmmaker Cappello was trying to do in Steele Wool. The story is meant to be a light-toned action/comedy about an unlikely assassin. I appreciate the juxtaposition of the killer comedy. Both he and Cami Varela are very likable on the screen. I love that Varela can play around with her hearing impairment, and the jokes surrounding it are funny, clever, and never at her expense. It’s all well intentioned but needed more.
When a story lays tonally flat, it’s challenging to engage and connect with the audience. If the stakes were higher, we’d root for the protagonist. If the jokes where funnier, we’d wait for the next one. If the drama were grounded, then we can connect with the character’s plight. It’s not to say there weren’t moments. There is a moment of connection when Daphne executes her first kill, but it’s just not enough. Engage and connect with the audience.
Overall, Steele Wool tells a solid story, with heart, and mild laughs, but it really needed a moment to burst out with a ball of energy from somewhere to shake up its mild tone.
"…the jokes surrounding it are funny, clever, and never at her expense."