- Street Date:
- September 7th, 2010
- Reviewed by:
- Nate Boss
- Review Date: 1
- September 7th, 2010
- Movie Release Year:
- 101 Minutes
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
I don't know why I volunteered for 'Killers.' It's not sourced from the Ernest Hemingway short story ('The Killers'), therefore isn't a remake of the Academy Award nominated 1946 film. It also isn't a sequel to John Woo's 'The Killer.' Critics drubbed it. It only pulled average numbers at the box office. It stars two actors who are better known for their personal lives (Ashton Kutcher for his marriage to Demi Moore, Katherine Heigl for her random arguments and dismissals of the films and TV shows she's been involved with), in roles that require an invaluable quality found in only the best actors and actresses: Charisma. These two? They ain't got it.
Having sat through 'The Killers,' I can't explain why I was somewhat entertained by it. It wasn't bad like watching a flaming car wreck, but it was far from original or intelligent. In fact, this may have been the most brainless film I've seen in some time.
A getaway vacation in Nice, France. Sounds fun, romantic. Only Jen Kornfeldt (Heigl) is accompanied by her parents (Tom Selleck and Catherine O'Hara). But just because she went stag doesn't mean she won't be with the man of her dreams, as Spencer Aimes (Kutcher), an assassin on a job, falls for Jen after some awkward encounters. Flash forward a few years, with Jen and Spencer having tied the knot, and Spencer having retired from the assassin business. Things seem mundane in typical American suburbia, settled down, peaceful. Then a call to take on another job ends Spencer's peaceful life, as a web of danger quickly ensnares him. Former friends are now out to kill him. And Jen learns the truth of his past. With nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide, the happy couple must come to grips with their past if they plan to have another anniversary.
Films like 'Killers,' it should be noted, deserve to fail, for numerous reasons. Casting Kutcher may be tops on that list, as it's very hard to separate his character from his real life and his past performances (probably because he's about as one note as Michael Cera, with an equally annoying voice). But he's the lead, showing off his chiseled abs shamelessly in an attempt to hook the young female audience. Casting Heigl was an equally poor decision, as her role would have been perfect for an up-and-coming talent, rather than a recognizable face, but apparently having two big leads was a must. Not putting the entire focus on Magnum himself may be the strongest reason to dislike the film, as Selleck provides the only entertainment. The man is a legend, with an amazing voice that falls short only when compared to his most epic of mustaches. He's also got some great body language (even if he isn't in his P.I. short-shorts).
Chemistry is completely missing, as cast members just feel thrown together. This is a testament to the acting capabilities of the leads, as well as the script, which doesn't give them anything to work with. The plot, ugh, the plot. It makes no sense, whatsoever. A bounty is put on Spencer's head, that's great. Literally everyone he thought he knew tries to kill him. This doesn't make sense, at all. Background characters go from goofy to deadly with the push of a button, and the transition doesn't work. Rob Riggle, in particular, is painful to watch, as the Henry character goes from buffoon to murderer literally mid-take. Worst still, Jen suddenly finds out she's married a man who's killed more people than she has fingers, and is completely accepting of the fact from the moment the truth is dropped on her. There's no awkwardness, no fear of a man who's capable of ending human life on command. There's no huge fight over how awful the betrayal is. It's like "hmmm, ok!," and on to the next scene.
Despite all that, I found myself enjoying the film, somewhat. In the moments when I wasn't praying a bullet would hit a main character, I found myself pulled into the inanity of it all, the way that 'Killers' almost functions on an insane level like 'Shoot 'em Up' did before it. Taking the characters (more like caricatures), and relating them to nothing more than extreme exaggerations, borderline cartoons, I suddenly found enjoyment in the way they dispatched former friends left and right, how they'd work their way out of danger, and try to salvage their relationship. My brain knew better, and eventually turned off to avoid further agony, but I was able to stay with it, through the end, and actually feel satisfied with the film, ridiculous as it may be. I would have liked a movie that has constant gunfire and a few explosions to have at least a few responding cop cars, or a few characters who weren't secretly assassins, just to throw off the monotony, but in the end, no amount of stupidity, bad, overly convenient writing, or horrible character interaction could stop me from grinning. 'Killers' is readily put to shame by films like 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith,' that have a level of unpredictability to them (as well as solid acting and writing), but if Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl's utter unlikability couldn't prevent me from having some fun with this flick, I doubt that the majority of people will be too horribly dissatisfied with the film.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'Killers' arrives on Blu-ray on a Region A locked BD50 disc, housed in a standard eco case, with a nice glossy slipcover replicating the cover art. There are a number of pre-menu trailers (for 'Why Did I Get Married Too?,' 'Kick-Ass,' an Epix channel spot, and then yet another trailer, for 'The Expendables'), that are not skippable through the top menu button.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The film itself may divide audiences, but there should be no rift in thoughts on the AVC MPEG-4 (1080p, 2.35:1) encode provided to 'The Killers.' The film is a stunner, for sure (again, we're talking about the video)...
Colors are wonderful, vibrant, and perfectly saturated. Black levels are pitch perfect, with solid shadow detail to boot. Detail? Pretty damn awesome, with clothing details showing shape and snaz, with intricate patterns and varied fabrics all coming to the forefront. Facial features are constantly leaping at you like some weird growth (in a good way - lookin' at you moustache!), while digital manipulation doesn't get a turn on this theme ride. Skin tones can sometimes go a bit orange, noise pops up a few times, and, probably due to the way the movie was filmed, there is sometimes a bit of a softness/blurriness to be found in areas not directly being focused on. If looks could kill, 'The Killers' would definitely be a mass murderer.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Lionsgate has never let me down when it comes to the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mixes that they give their new releases, so it should come as no surprise that 'The Killers' had me from the getgo, with a loud and boisterous track that brings the goods.
Surround activity is quite natural, including perfect directionality and some great movement effects that never feel forced. Bass levels go from great to killer in no time flat, though they can overpower a few sequences with their intensity. Dialogue is always clear, though sometimes it has a slight problem with prioritization. It's really odd, that a crowded club wouldn't drown out a single word of dialogue (and had very little surround activity, one of the few hangups in this audio track, that actually pops up a few times), but in some scenes gunfire got swallowed whole by soundtrack elements and some other action noises. Intensity levels jump around to match the film effectively, creating a fun ambience to the film, and combined with limitless range, and some awesome roars of car engines in a number of action sequences, 'The Killers' sports one immersive, frenzied audio track that won't let you get bored with the film.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
- Killer Chemistry: Behind the Scenes with the Killers' Cast and
Crew (HD, 11 min) - An EPK feature, if ever there were one. Cast and
crew discuss their characters, and some basic themes in the film.
- Gags (HD, 1 min) - A series of missteps on set. A
typical gag reel, though there are some fun spots.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 min) - Six axed scenes, with a play
all option. We see Spencer turning his back on the job, some marital
interactions, and a moment with a background character that make absolutely no
sense in the scope of the film. A series of wise removals.
- Alternate Scenes (HD, 6 min) - Three alternate scenes,
including an alternate ending (!), with a play all option. The first two really
don't add anything meaningful, while the alternate ending adds something I'm
surprised the actual film didn't. Those paying attention while notice the
MacGuffin in the film, but it's wrapped up, here.
- Extended Scenes (HD, 5 min) - Three more extra moments,
again with a play all option. Why the deleted, alternate, and extended scenes
didn't just get bundled together is beyond me, beyond the fact that it makes it
look like there's more value to the extras.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
The high def exclusives for Killers are plentiful, yet filled with nothing. The ability to use Bookmarks is the most useful item, while D-Box Motion Code capabilities are nice for the few that have a set up. The LG-Live trinkets (Gadgets, Facebook/Twitter, and Wallpapers) are not that special, while BD Touch and Metamenu are BD technology put to the wrong uses. When a Blu-ray Credits screen is more useful than over half of your extras, you know something has gone awry. At least the Ticker has been updated (though now it is quite generic, advertising random Lionsgate Blu-ray release dates), no longer advertising year old titles.
I'm honestly quite surprised there was no Digital Copy with this release.
I still don't buy the sight of Ashton Kutcher holding a gun, let alone shooting it, but 'Killers' doesn't appreciate the fact that I dared even use my brain for a minute while watching the film. Turning off the ol' thinker led to a much more enjoyable experience, one that I'd recommend going into this film. It has a small cast (that includes Alex Borstein from 'Family Guy' and 'MadTV,' perhaps the most mis-cast actor amidst an entire crew of mis-cast actors) of familiar faces, and enough Tom Selleck to leave any man's man satisfied.
Lionsgate's Blu-ray release of 'Killers' features great video and audio qualities, but a real lack of extras, making this a great potential buy. My advice? Plenty of people will buy this disc on release week, and the second hand market will inevitably swell from those unhappy with the film, and the price will plummet. Keep an eye on eBay, Amazon third party, and Hastings, and pick this one up when it hits an appropriate value.
- Region A
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
- French Dolby Digital 5.1
- English, English SDH, Spanish
- Killer Chemistry: Behind the Scenes with the Killers' Cast
- Deleted/alternate/extended scenes
- Gag Reel
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