Sunday, February 8, 2009

Killshot (2008)

Director John Madden misdirects Killshot into a mess of tangled clichés that denies him any success. Given the cast he has at his disposal, there is little that he could have done to make it go this wrong, but he does that little quite spectacularly. He starts by establishing the writ-in-stone Hollywood formula of two hitmen: Mickey Rourke’s contract killer Armand is the cool cucumber to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s psychopathic Richie Nix. What (or more precisely who) they pursue are yet another familiar screen setup, the childless-couple going through divorce. Madden’s movie eventually spirals from this setup into B-movie territory with characters we don’t care about and outcomes we expect.

The ageing and tired Armand aka Blackbird works by the rules. Laying low after killing an eye-witness out of line, he agrees on an extortion job, partnering with hot-headed Richie Nix to make some quick cash. Their attempt is botched by Wayne Colson (Thomas Jane) and his wife Carmen (Diane Lane) and the couple is taken into the Witness Protection Program, with the two killers hot on their trails.

The three male leads play equally aggressive characters onscreen, and may be referred to as the good, the bad and the crazy. Given the dynamics of these three men, especially during an impromptu gun-fight at a realtor’s office, the movie could have been an interesting and wonderful display of one-up-man-ship not only between the hunters and their prey, but also between the two hitmen themselves. But Madden prefers to spend an unnecessary amount of expository time exploring tired domestic issues between Wayne and Carmen. This gives Diane Lane unnecessary screen-time that only works at using her as the obligatory female/sexual prop. Rosario Dawson, as Richi’s girlfriend, also gnaws up a plot thread that could have been easily omitted for the benefit of the psychological and physical game that the movie aims at. Eventually, even with its short running time of 84 minutes, Killshot ends up being far too scattershot for anyone to really find it engaging.

My rating --> 1.5 of 5

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