Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Killshot [movie review]

* Released theatrically in January; now on DVD
What a mess. Killshot, based on an Elmore Leonard novel, was shot in 2006 and underwent serious post-production work in an effort to produce something more satisfying than the trainwreck it was deemed to be by early test screening audiences. No dice. After collecting dust for an extended period, the film was meekly given a two week release in Arizona on five screens this past January, perhaps in an effort to steer clear of the stink a "straight to DVD" label would have for the film. Again, no dice.
The plot is threadbare and clumsily executed. A hitman for the Toronto mob, Armand "Blackbird" Degas (played by Mickey Rourke) pisses off his employers and makes the mistake of getting involved with a wannabe roughneck named Richie Nix (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Their partnership is explained by the fact Richie reminds Blackbird of his younger brother, but the credibility of the relationship is cast in doubt almost immediately. Blackbird is a seasoned criminal veteran, while Richie is a complete whackjob prone to unpredictable behavior that only calls attention to their nefarious deeds. As laid back and reserved as Rourke plays his character, Gordon-Levitt overacts wildly, to the point of annoyance. Methinks he picked up a few too many acting lessons from the always hammy John Lithgow during their years on TV's 3rd Rock From The Sun. Besides, Richie's extortion plan (that piques Blackbird's interest) is completely full of holes.
Caught up in the bumbling pair's plans via a case of mistaken identity are on-the-rocks married couple Carmen Colson (played by Diane Lane) and Wayne (played by Thomas Jane). The pair are placed in witness protection, which proves to be far from safe as Blackbird and Richie track them down with comical ease. Lane and Jane do as much as they can with their bland roles, with an inordinate amount of time spent on a throwaway subplot about them rekindling their relationship. Director John Madden somehow even manages to get Lane, a respected mature actress who surely is above such pandering to the puerile male audience, down to her panties and a tight white top that leaves little to the imagination for a couple of completely gratuitous scenes. Rosario Dawson has a small role as Richie's girlfriend - why she took it is beyond me. She may have a few more lines than the actress listed in the credits as "Barmaid", but the two roles share about the same amount of depth and relevance to the story.
Everything about Killshot says "troubled". The action is scarce, the tension is limp and the rough edges from the heavy editing are hard to miss. Johnny Knoxville originally had a role as a deputy, but is now nowhere to be seen after being relegated to the proverbial cutting room floor. And why else would a film starring Mickey Rourke, hot on the heels of serious Oscar buzz for The Wrestler, have been dumped in its own form of witness protection program, getting a limited theatrical release literally the day after Rourke was nominated in the Best Actor category? Even the studio knew this turd wasn't worth the effort of trying to piggyback on the success and high profile of actual quality film work.
Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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