Not the best title for a film, does Killers kill? Or, asks Kimberly Gadette, does this film cry out for a hit man of its own, someone kind enough to take it out of its misery?
It seems that the studios are attempting to build a better mousetrap. Given the current, decided taint of the rom-com, there's a new genre in town targeting both sexes: romance for her, action for him. Sounds like a perfect match-dot-com: "Curvy hot babe looking for a LTR with a hunk who's packing heat." A hookup between Cupid's arrows and flying bullets? Whew, that's got to make for some substantial sparks.
It's not that "romaction" hasn't been around for awhile: earlier films falling under this category include Charade, Romancing the Stone, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. But with the releases of Date Night, Killers and the upcoming Knight and Day, this subgenre is suddenly leaping into the spotlight.
That said, does Killers blow us away? How's the romance? How's the action? What about the fact that the studio refused to hold any screenings for critics prior to the film's release? And is it possible that this paragraph may generate more excitement than the film itself?
Ouch. Talk about more fizzle than sizzle.
When lovelorn yet beautiful Jen (Katherine Heigl) meets up with single yet hunky Spencer (Ashton Kutcher) on the French Riviera, the scenario is as pretty as a picture postcard. She lies about being on vacation with her folks (Tom Selleck's Mr. Kornfeldt, Catherine O'Hara's Mrs. Kornfeldt). He lies about being a hired assassin. So what's the problem? Doesn't everyone misrepresent themselves a bit at the start of a courtship? After a few more scenes, we flash forward three years, with Jen and Spencer happily married and ensconced in an upscale suburban neighborhood. Until the day of Spencer's 30th birthday, when it seems as if everyone in town is looking to give him a very special present. With either a sharp point or a silencer. Simply put ... this is not the gift that keeps on giving.
Keeping to the title's theme, we most decidedly have murder in mind – for the filmmakers. The script is idiotic. The leads display little chemistry. The action is ho-hum and repetitious, with deathly struggles (knife fights, car chases, gunplay) going on so long that we pray that both sides will die of boredom before we do.
While the filmmakers were obviously going for humor about murderous mayhem in suburbia, it's a terrific muddle. Neighbors of three years who throw block parties suddenly turn berserk. Jen's overprotective parents treat her like a developmentally handicapped child, fearing for her life on an airplane, sitting on either side of her as they insist she point out the emergency exits. Jen and Spencer think nothing of arguing about his issues with her parents, even though he has mere seconds to flee before the next round of bullets come whizzing at his head. There is an unexplained joke that weaves throughout with Catherine O'Hara's character downing buckets of alcohol at every opportunity. (Perhaps it's because O'Hara knew exactly why there were no pre-release screenings held for the critics.)
Heigl should be a pro by now with this, her fourth romantically-tinged comedy in so many years (Knocked Up, 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth). But as time goes by, it seems as if the actress' enthusiasm for these comedies is waning. Here, Heigl's character is either berating or shrieking. Constantly. Her early scenes with her parents are colorless. The only opportunity she gets to remind us of her comedic abilities happens when she first encounters Kutcher in an elevator as she's crunching on Maalox tablets. Her attempt to suppress the chewing is very funny – even though, thanks to director Robert Luketic, the scene also goes on much too long.
As for Heigl's co-lead, Kutcher is severely in need of a decent project. He has obvious charm, but his acting choices to date have hampered him to the point that he may ultimately make his sole on-camera mark as a commercial pitchman for Nikon cameras. Hopefully he'll soon find a project that will allow him to shine ... because no one deserves to have their career slaughtered by a substandard film called Killers.
And no one deserves to have 100 movie minutes wasted by the same.
Rating on a scale of 5 attempts to kill me softly with some damn song: 1
Release date: US: 4 June 2010; UK: 16 June 2010
Directed by: Robert Luketic
Written by: Bob DeRosa and T.M. Griffin
Story by: Bob DeRosa
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Tom Selleck, Catherine O'Hara, Katheryn Winnick, Kevin Sussman, Lisa Ann Walter, Casey Wilson, Rob Riggle, Martin Mull, Alex Borstein
Rating: US = PG-13; UK = 12A
Running time: 100 minutes