For a movie tagged as a comedy/thriller, Killers is conspicuously short on both laughs and thrills. In fact the only genuine emotion it evokes is bemusement — mainly along the lines of, why would anyone make this stultifying movie?
Jen, a regular gal, and Spencer, a regular undercover government agent, meet on the French Riviera and fall in love. Three years later, the newlyweds are living the suburban dream except for the fact that Spencer has omitted to tell his wife about his former job. Spencer’s past finally catches up with him and with a 20 million dollar bounty placed on his head, the couple becomes fair game for their neighbours. In fact, everyone they know is out to get them.
A plot that is implausible can still be mined for a lot of laughs, judging by this year’s Date Night. Certainly absurdity is not an impediment but an impetus in comedy. The wafer-thin premise should not have stood in the way of original comic situations and with the suburban setting there was every opportunity to make tongue-in-cheek observations about human nature, maybe creating a nuanced suburban character or two. Unfortunately, Killers is just an undeveloped, unimaginative, half-baked waste of time and money that doesn’t even try to be any better.
Katherine Heigl’s droll charm works fine in frothy romances — 27 Dresses was enjoyable, Knocked Up was okay. Playing the lead in a comedic thriller though, requires some serious comic chops which she and her co-star Ashton Kutcher conspicuously lack, as Killers only too plainly shows. The two refuse to budge from the realm of cutesy pie, never rising to the heights of genuine slapstick. To be fair, they’re not given any decent material to work with. There is not an iota of originality, the situations are entirely derivative and the perfunctory screenplay seems to have been spewed out after a synthesis of other works in the genre by a robot lacking the human faculty of imagination.
Possibly the most painful part is when Spence and Jen stop at a store after dodging assassins to buy — wouldn’t you know it — a pregnancy test. The distinctly half-hearted attempt at drumming up some excitement here is actually quite depressing, so skip this part. In fact, unless you really haven’t anything better to do, skip this movie altogether.
Killers is an entirely superfluous venture that is too long for its 90 minutes. It seems that the editors realised (too late) that they did not have great material and cut out reams and reams of footage in the hope that no one would notice exactly how bad it was. This is a movie with self-esteem issues. Not only is it low on fun, it has a pitifully truncated feel to it and the lack of effort is painfully evident. It shouldn’t exist and it knows it. If the editors had cut out any more, there would have been nothing. If only.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2010.
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