Killshot (2008) John Madden

Production Budget: unknown
Gross: $17,007

Killshot was being tossed around since 1995.  There were many people slated to play the killers such as Robert DeNiro, Quentin Tarantino, Viggo Mortensen, and Justin Timberlake.  When the Weinsteins had their break up from Miramax the Weinsteins took this along with a few other properties as part of the separation agreement.  This was one of those projects that had to undergo several re-shoots and edits because it just didn’t test well with audiences.  The movie was pushed back from its original release date of 2006 to being limped out in 2008.

Killshot is based on an Elmore Leonard novel of the same name.  Carmen (Diane Lane) and her husband (Thomas Jane) are a married couple whose relationship is on the rocks.  They get put in a witness protection program after they witness a prominent mob hit man Blackbird (Mickey Rourke) commit a crime.  Blackbird is also in trouble by the mob when he kills the bosses girlfriend in a hit.  Blackbird is accompanied by a psychopathic killer played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

You know the movie promotes both Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke as the main stars of this movie (obviously cashing in on the success of the Wrestler) but I’ll tell you the reason I actually picked it up was to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  I think this guy is a talented young actor and he is very good in anything he’s in.  Now this movie has a lot of talent from the Leonard book, to the top level actors involved, to even John Madden (who directed Shakespeare in Love).  You would think it would be even mildly entertaining but no, it comes off as fairly bland.

Of course lets start with the acting.  The acting is fine.  I’m not sure you could ever sell me on Mickey Rourke being a Native American but whatever: he is entertaining enough.  And Joseph Gordon-Levitt also does a good job as the “YEE HAW” psycho killer, if not a little hammy for my taste.  But their performances are not enough to carry this movie for me.  Rourke has to play the stereotypical hitman who plays by the rules and doesn’t show emotion.  So for most the movie he just has a stern face and says stuff through voice over like “A good hit man must never leave witnesses.” or “You must be sure of your target and exactly how many bullets you need.” etc.  And Levitt is also good but is not prominent enough to carry the movie.  The majority of the movie is carried by Jane and Lane and they simply aren’t compelling enough.

In fact, my main problem with the movie is that its seemingly more about the failed marriage of their character’s than about psychopathic hit men trying to kill them.  I don’t know if its like that in the book but they spend so much time talking about their relationship I almost thought we were in Nights at Rodanthe.  Then we cut back to Rourke and I’m like “Oh yeah, someone’s trying to kill them”.  That’s another problem: the killer plot falls completely flat for me.  For as much as this guy talks about being the best hit man, he really sucks.  Rourke isn’t all that menacing, his character comes up with stupid plans, he has no real problem solving abilities, and he can’t learn to shut up and shoot his targets.  Now that may be the point of the book is that he believes he is the best but is utterly incompetent but I highly doubt that.  Every fed/mob character try to play him up as the next Anton Chigurh and yet every one of his plans go completely tits up on him.  There is absolutely no tension at all here.  This is no No Country or Blood Simple: you do not believe the hit man is crazy/dangerous or right around the next corner trying to strike.  Here he’s just chillin with Rosario Dawson which is good for him but doesn’t make for a good thriller.

This is just a bland movie.  It has a lot of potential but failed to capitalize on any of it. There is no tension, the plot meanders, and the acting is not good enough to pull it out.  Simply put, its another in a long list of “meh” movies.  And its yet another Blockbuster Exclusive/Weistein Company creation.

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