4 December 2010

Movie Review: Killers


2010, 93mins, 12
Director: Robert Luketic
Writer (s): Bob DeRosa, Ted Griffin
Cast includes: Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Tom Selleck, Catherine O'Hara, Rob Riggle, Martin Mull
UK Release Date: 16th June 2010

In 2007 Katherine Heigl showcased herself wonderfully in the splendid “Knocked Up”, a film that strongly indicated the actress was headed for great things. Three years on and all we now know is that time can be a cruel mistress. After a series of abominable efforts (2008’s “27 Dresses” and 2009’s “The Ugly Truth” being the most notable) Heigl returns with “Killers”, a forcibly unfunny action comedy. Teamed with the consistently unimpressive Ashton Kutcher, Heigl is left floundering amidst a sea of poor writing and dull storytelling. “Killers” receives a welcome sprinkling of black humour in its last act, but ultimately that’s not enough to excuse the opening 70 minutes of undiluted drabness.

A depressed and lonely singleton, Jen (Katherine Heigl) meets the man of her dreams whilst holidaying in France with her parents. He’s called Spencer (Ashton Kutcher), and he also happens to be charming, handsome and debonair. The two fall in love (ridiculously) quickly, returning home to suburban America to become man and wife. Fast forward three years. The pair are happy but some of the excitement has fizzled out of their relationship, something quickly rectified as Spencer’s secretive past comes back to haunt them. It transpires that he’s an ex-assassin for the CIA, and now somebody wants him dead. As a result the wedded pair is forced to try and solve who is behind the murderous attempts on his life, all the while trying to evade the killers sent out to terminate him.

The first 30 minutes of “Killers” are ludicrously undercooked, after displaying a single tepid date the movie asks the audience to believe the leading characters are now wildly obsessed with each other. Yeah right. Not only does the film do an awful job of constructing a viable central romance, it’s also hindered by the fact Kutcher and Heigl have absolutely no chemistry together. These faults mix to create deadly results, most notably a couple of leading characters who audiences won’t give a damn about. Consequently the picture packs absolutely no tension during the spottily executed action set-pieces, and the banal goofball gags don’t work because neither figure is appealing. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

“Killers” is directed by hack du jour Robert Luketic, the man behind last year’s Heigl misfire “The Ugly Truth” (which in fairness was probably worse than “Killers”). The action sequences aren’t helmed with any flair or spirit, instead Luketic opts for the same vanilla beats that plagued other recent genre effort “The Bounty Hunter”. I probably preferred this film slightly to that one, but only because the attempts at comedy are a little more obvious in “Killers”, even if they’re no more successful. The laugh rate is phenomenally low here, as Heigl shrieks her way around the picture in the most egregious fashion possible, and the screenplay consistently plonks for lowest common denominator chuckles. In the final 15 minutes the movie takes an interesting detour into darker and wittier comic realms, but ultimately it’s far too little far too late. The last act might provide some added entertainment value, but it can’t compensate for the dreary bilge which precedes it.

Kutcher and Heigl aren’t given much to work with, but both thespians look unbothered by the laziness of what’s laid out before them. Content to swing it for a quick paycheque both performers tread through the production with no urgency or devotion, a trait shared by several of their co-stars. Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara are forgettable as Jen’s overbearing parents, whilst a host of so called comedic actors pop up from time to time trying to extract some joy from this mirthless debacle. “Killers” wasn’t a big hitter at the box-office during summer 2010, and frankly after watching it I’m not surprised. It’s a crass and uninspired example of the Hollywood system, a calculated waste of celluloid more interested in wringing out wallets than belly laughs.

A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2010


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