Friday, July 9, 2010

Bad Movie Review: Killers

The concept of a husband, wife or loved one leading a secret life as an undercover agent is nothing new. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Grosse Point Blanke, True Lies, The Osterman Weekend, Undercover Blues, The In-Laws and many more have handled this particular subject matter. This isn't to say that this can't be done, but you always want to bring something new to the table. Unfortunately, Killers doesn't manage to do this. The real tragedy, however, is that it so easily could have.

The premise is easy enough to explain; Ashton Kutcher marries Katherine Heigl without revealing his past as a government-contracted assassin. She finds out the hard way, however, as their idyllic life is destroyed when people they considered close friends start trying to kill them. Hilarity ensues. For some reason the film feels the need to waste the entire first act setting up the simple premise of Kutcher and Heigl meeting and falling in love, instead of saving all of that for minor back story later in the film. You could miss the entire first act and still have no problem following the movie, and that is never a good thing. This waste of an opening act is made even more unbearable by Heigl's unappealing comedic overacting, and Kutcher's attempts at a suave bond-type voice that just manage to make him sound dubbed.

Heigl and Kutcher aren't unappealing actors, yet they never really manage to be endearing or enjoyable enough to carry you through the film. Other actors in smaller roles easily still the show whenever they share the screen with the lead actors, including Tom Selleck, Catherine O'Hara, and the Daily Show's Rob Riggle, who seems to get what a dark comedy should look like. If the filmmakers had followed Riggle's lead, they might have ended up with a truly fun dark comedy, instead of the light Forgetting Sarah Marshall with Guns that they decided to make.

Surprisingly, the one thing that Killers has going for it is its action sequences. The fight choreography is not only tight and captivating, but there is a really cool car chase through a suburban landscape that is actually impressive. Little flashes like this really underline the almost schizophrenic nature of the film. The action sequences show a desire to make a hard-hitting dark comedy about government assassins and deadly neighbors, yet the tame PG-13 violence and goofy RomCom antics reveal a desire to be the kind of breezy date film that Kutcher has already done repeatedly in the past.

This is where Killers ultimately fails, in its inability to seize the potential that the setting of the film affords. If the filmmakers had simply scrapped the useless introductory sequence of the first act, and had instead concentrated on building the world that would soon fall apart around the ears of the main characters, the film as a whole would have had much more to offer. Instead of just being an almost goofy comedy, it could have become a dark comedy with subtle commentary on the true nature and lack of intimacy of neighbor relationships in suburban settings, the duplicity of married life, the frailty of friendship, and the tenuous bond between in-laws. Instead, the film let's its own potential rot away on the vine while it goes for cheap RomCom humor and over-the-top mugging at the camera.

Still, Tom Selleck's mustache rules.
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