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  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of GV)

Genre: Thriller
Director: John Madden
Cast: Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke, Thomas Jane, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lois Smith, Don McManus, Hal Holbrook
RunTime: 1 hr 24 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: NC-16
Official Website: http://www.killshot-film.com/

Opening Day: 9 April 2009


Beautiful Carmen Colson and her ironworker husband Wayne are placed in the Federal Witness Protection program after witnessing an "incident". Thinking they are at last safe, they are targeted by an experienced hit man and a psychopathic young upstart killer. The ensuing struggle will test Carmen to the limit.

Movie Review:

Cinematic witness protection programmes would have you think that it is one leaky boat, where identities cannot stay hidden forever, and you're either protected by cops who are none too smart and are slipshod at their work, or minor missteps by either party would snowball instantly into giveaways that put one under immediate danger.

I'm sure many would have hailed Mickey Rourke's comeback in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, and probably flock to the theatres to see the big guy in action again (although technically this film was shot way earlier). In Killshot, he's The Hitman, a cool and calculative half Indian hatchet man for the mob who returns to his hometown after bumping off a woman who had seen his face, despite the fact that she's sleeping with his boss. Rourke brings to life yet another consummate professional, and here he relies a lot on his steely calm demeanour to flesh out a killer who seeks to redeem his earlier wrong doing when he accidentally killed his own kid brother, by taking on and grooming a small time crook as his partner in crime.

As his partner, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Richie Nix is the exact anti-thesis of Rourke's Armand “Blackbird” Degas. Nix is a braggart of a character who just can't shut up, and the audience will likely hear the character before seeing him on screen. For fans of Gordon-Levitt, he rivals Rourke and managed to hold his own opposite the veteran, never to be cowed or overawed by his presence. In fact, I would rank his dim witted Nix character as tops in the appeal department, because he's essentially the glue that is needed to hold this film together, which was being bogged down by relatively common characters that are a dime a dozen in a lot of movies out there. In fact, I'd even like to go further and suggest that his character is what allowed the movie to shine, as we see his gaining of psychotic confidence and stature as he puts into practice the lessons learnt from Blackbird.

You might wonder why I made mention of the bad guys first, because unfortunately they are the more interesting characters from this Elmore Leonard novel turned movie, and they were the saving grace in Killshot. The good folks in Diane Lane's Carmen and Thomas Jane's Wayne are the bland and estranged Colsons, where we learn after a long while that there are inexplicable differences between the two that they have to contemplate divorce. Will a common adversary prove to eradicate the wedge between them? (*yawn*) Who knows, and you probably wouldn't care given the very fleeting characterization here. There are some intense moments especially when you start rooting for them to cooperate against Blackbird and Nix who employ the divide and conquer strategy, but that soon gives way where you feel that the Colsons are like two teenagers embroiled in indecisiveness that grows tiring as the minutes tick by.

Plot elements were clearly laid out, giving away what's to come, and every attempt at subtlety just becomes an accidental blaring of the horn. Oh, there's where the gun is placed. Oh, the mom will become the proxy, and so on. I have no idea why Rosario Dawson's here too, other than to pay the bills, because her role could be acted by any ingenue in their sleep, dressed in their pyjamas, in what was a classic flower vase role.

Like cinematic witness protection programs that don't work, Killshot actually had plenty of potential in being a taut thriller, but director John Madden (with films such as Shakespeare in Love, Proof and Captain Corelli's Mandolin under his belt) failed to maximize those promises and opted for an easier way out with a very straightforward narrative. Being a troubled production also didn't help its cause, and much of the shortcomings were attributed to the rumoured reshoots and edits after test audiences gave the thumbs down to the initial product. Well, this supposedly spruced up version didn't help either, and had a couple of very standard loopholes especially those involving the cops, that made them always eager to count their chickens before their eggs hatch.

Movie Rating:

(Could've been a surefire given the stars at its disposal)

Review by Stefan Shih


. The Wrestler (2008)

. Untraceable (2008)

. Hollywoodland (2006)

. Firewall (2005)

. The Lookout DVD (2007)

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