Action Movie Friday: Killers (2010)

It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!

Title: Killers
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release: 2010
Genre: action, romantic comedy
Starring: Tom Selleck, Catherine O’Hara, Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl
Director: Robert Luketic
Writer: Bob DeRosa, Ted Griffin,
Distributor: Lionsgate
Budget: $75 Million
Box Office: $98 Million

this trailer emphasizes the wrong half of the movie and is only going to interest someone like me who already knows they like this genre

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 11%

Gingersnaps Rating: Four Cookies!

Okay, I guess critics have a hugely different sense of humor than I do. Good to know.

Summary:

On a vacation to Nice, France with her parents, the ditzy Jen and the handsome Spencer, a spy who specializes in assassination fall in love. Determined to get out of spy work, Spencer walks away from his job and into a marriage with Jen and by extension her overbearing family. Three years later, his old boss contacts him and Spencer’s new suburban life where he knows too much about his neighbors starts to fall about at the seams. His marriage to Jen starts to crack as those who they thought were nearest and dearest start trying to kill them. Will Spencer and Jen be able to survive the day with their marriage and lives intact?

Review:

I knew as soon as I saw Tom Selleck’s name in the credits that he was going to make this movie. And it wasn’t because he was the actor who would be the most believable ‘action’ star. Tom Selleck can be the most interesting ‘straight’ man to put into the middle of the types of situations that are the territory of a romantic comedy action thriller. Katherine Heigl is known more for her romantic comedies while Ashton Kutcher is known for his short lived marriage with Demi Moore. Neither of them are the types people would think of with the words action movie, which is fine. Because this isn’t that straight up type of action movie and casting two actors who are out of the box actually works in the context of the movie. However, what works in a context of a movie doesn’t mean that audiences will understand it or want to see it.

Numbers wise, this was a bit of a dice roll for Lionsgate and while it didn’t fail miserably, it wasn’t a qualified success story either. On a budget of $75 Million, the movie made around $98 Million, over half of that was overseas, and then sold about $20 Million in blu ray, dvd sales. The two movies I would compare this one too, Mr. & Mrs. Smith & RED. RED made twice that much at the box office on a smaller budget and Mr. & Mrs. Smith had a slightly larger budget but made over 4 times that much at the box office. Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher just don’t have the star power of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or even the draw of Bruce Willis.

And it’s hard to know what a movie is about when the marketing emphasized more of the action rather than the romantic comedy aspects of the movie when the movie hinges on the romantic comedy plot. Whereas the entire thing hinges upon the fact that Spencer wants to know his neighbors and what happens when the neighbors are trying to kill you. Sure, there is time spent on the why and the who, but most of the movie is focused on how the truth of what both Jen and Spencer feel comes out under pressure and the type of people they are. And because this is a romantic comedy and romantic comedies almost demand happy endings, Spencer doesn’t turn into a monster and Jen doesn’t kick him to the curb.

I found most of the film to be engaging. There were a few romantic comedy elements that could have been left out, the monologue about his real job while Jen was sleeping and the speech to Jen’s father all could have been cut for time. It was also incredibly funny.

There were two unnecessary explosions in this movie. One was unnecessary simple because of real world logistics. If you’re going to assassinate someone, blowing up their helicopter is not the way to do it. Explosions of perfectly functioning aircraft tend to cause in depth investigations. And, explosions are also really messy, not something that you want to see on the French Riviera. The other explosion was completely unnecessary and thoroughly entertaining. So, a cookie.

The fight scenes were funny, made use of the environment and really drove home the dichotomy of spy and home life, crashing through windows and dry wall and almost being strangled by printer cords. They were all out brawls rather than elegant fist fights, and Ashton managed to look like he mostly knew what he was doing. Bravo.

By the nature of the story, Jen has to be a strong female character. There were definitely things about her character that were played for laughs, such as the daughter of a Marine not being able to shoot or point a gun. (Two hands sweetie, two hands that gun is a monster and you don’t want to break your nose.) She was also given her own little arc where she had to make choices and grow as a person and in general resolving whether or not she was going to stay or go, be her own person or remain daddy’s little girl forever. I wish I could be more enthused, but I’m not. It feels that they used the dart board woman’s plot (rape, death, marriage, engagement, baby, etc.) approach to her story. This is a trap way of thinking about writing women and felt like a halfhearted effort. If you’re going to break genre and add action to your film, go all the way! On a positive note, over half the contract killers coming after the main couple were women, so that was interesting. But the halfhearted plot writing for Jen makes me eat half of the cookie.

The suburbia setting for this film was really great. It gave an edge of the surreal to the film. Who was going to try and kill them next? Where would the next attack take place? What would you do if your neighborhood fedup guy was trying to kill you? The best scene is when they are walking through the block party to try and get to their house and people are looking at them. And you don’t know if it is because the people truly are angry and want to kill them or it is Jen and Spencer’s imaginations on overdrive. In the physical world, guns ran out of ammo and cars ran out of gas, but I’m not really sure if overhead doors are that fragile. Just, where are the cops? Where are the news services? The end of the film wants you to believe that all these people died and the property was damaged and stolen and nothing happened. As funny as the movie was, I cannot squash my disbelief that much that in modern suburban life the cops and news wouldn’t be somewhere. It could have added more tension to the film. So, I’m going to eat another half of a cookie.

Killers is a film that drops extreme characters into absurd situations to see what happens and ends up being quite entertaining. I found it hysterical (but my sense of humor isn’t everyone’s as evidenced by the 11% review from rotten tomatoes.) Tom Selleck makes this movie (see this if you like Tom Selleck.) The characters true natures are pushed forward as they have to deal with their inner problems as well as the outer problem. Sadly, lazy writing and the lack of thinking the entire world through take way from what is otherwise a genuinely good movie. Four gingersnaps.

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