Killers

Killers Killers Killers Killers Killers

"Killers," the new wannabe comedy-actioner, continues the downward path of director Robert Luketic, who last made the awful comedy, "The Ugly Truth," which was dismissed by most critics but made money at the box-office.

Trailer:  emanuellevy.com/videos/view.cfm?id=215.

This is the second teaming of helmer Luketic and actress Katherine Heigl, who was the star of his last picture. But you wonder why are they so eager to work together? Neither serves or elevates the career of the other.

Sadly and strangely, Heigl left the popular TV show "Grey's Anatomy" to embark on a more successful big-screen career, one that will offer her more "substantial" roles.  However, with a few exceptions (Judd Apatow's "Knocked-Up"), she has made mostly disappointing and silly pictures ("27 Dresses" anyone?).  Ditto for the naturally appealing Ashton Kutcher, who seems unable to find suitable vehicles to serve well his limited but visible talents.

"Killers" will go down in history as the most expensive movie (north of $70 million) in the history of the already-troubled Lionsgate, which decided–with good reasons–not to hold advance screenings for the press.  The movie opened in wide release last night at midnight, and likely will suffer from competition from the much funnier comedy "Get Him to the Greek," and other features, such as the intelligent and supremely mounted sci-fi-horror "Splice."
 
Heigl plays Jen Kornfeldt, a woman with a history of bad relationships. Trying to recover from a sudden break-up, she believes she’ll never fall in love again, let alone marry.  For momentary distraction, she reluctantly joins her parents (played by Tom Selleck and Catherine O'Hara) on a trip to the French Riviera. Lo and behold, upon arrival, Jen meets a "fantasy" man, Spencer Aimes (Ashton Kutcher), dashing and handsome, but also vague and somehow mysterious.
 
Clearly, Luketic was influenced by Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief," starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly at their most charismatic, and set in the French Riviera.  But I'm embarrassed to even mention the two movies in the same sentence.
 
Cut to three years later, when Jen and Spencer are newlyweds, living a seemingly ideal and peaceful suburban life.  All goes well until the morning after Spencer’s 30th birthday, when life suddenly turns upside down for Jen— out of the blue, highly trained, undercover assassins start spraying the couple's home with bullets.
 
From this point on, the story shamelessly lifts freely from the Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1990s vehicle, "True Lies," in which he was married to Jamie Lee Curtis and had a double identity. The "original" screenplay for "Killers," credited to Bob DeRosa and T.M. Griffin, based on DeRosa's story, is third-rate, an arbitrary compilation of clichés and characters seen in other, better pictures, such as "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" (with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). On paper, the plot also resembles the upcoming "Knight and Day," with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diza, which Fox will release later this month. 
 
It turns out that Spencer had never "bothered" to tell Jen he was once an international super-spy.   Faced with the fact that her husband is a hit man, Jen is determined to discover what other secrets Spencer might be keeping, while, literally, trying to dodge bullets, keep up the façade of neighborly appearance, manage the nosy in-laws, plan a family.
 
"Killers" is meant to be a wild, witty, unpredictable ride, alongside a playful anatomy of love, marriage and trust.  However, what we get instead is one silly, poorly written and directed sequence after another.
 
At his best, Luketic has instincts for the comedy genre, though he has not made a decent movie since "Legally Blonde," which benefited immensely from the charisma of Reese Witherspoon. In "Killers," he fails miserably at staging any exciting action sequences, like routine chases and shootouts, which any hack in Hollywood could have done with the support from a skillful crew.
 
As the central couple on the run, discussing the nature and future of their marriage while fielding bullets, Heigl and Kutcher look good and enjoy on-screen chemistry, which did not exist between Heigl and Gerard Butler in "Ugly Truth."  Since "Killers" was produced by the company of Kutcher (credited as exec-producer), he should also be held responsible for the trashy material. 
 
Selleck and O'Hara, two good, skillful actors, are totally wasted in the secondary roles of Jen's overprotective parents.
 
End Note
 
Kutcher is a physically appealing guy but he now seems to occupy the position that Richard Gere had for two decades–call it the "Shirtless Guy."  In picture after picture, he is stripped to his waist, whether or not the story calls for it.

Cast

Jen Kornfeldt..…… Katherine Heigl
Spencer Aimes….. .Ashton Kutcher
Mr. Kornfeldt….……. Tom Selleck
Mrs. Kornfeldt…. Catherine O'Hara
Vivian………… Katheryn Winnick
Mac Bailey…. ……Kevin Sussman
Olivia Brooks…. ..Lisa Ann Walter
Kristen…. …………..Casey Wilson
Henry…. ………………Rob Riggle
Holbrook…. …………Martin Mull
Lily Bailey…. ………Alex Borstein
Credits
A Lionsgate release of an Aversano Films, Katalyst Films, Lionsgate production. Produced by Scott Aversano, Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, Mike Karz.
Executive producers, Christopher Pratt, Chad Marting, William S. Beasley, Josie Rosen, Peter Morgan, Michael Paseornek, John Sacchi.
Co-producers, Hernany Perla, Karyn Spencer Murphy.
Directed by Robert Luketic.
Screenplay, Bob DeRosa, T.M. Griffin, from a story by DeRosa.
Camera, Russell Carpenter.
Editors, Richard Francis-Bruce, Mary Jo Markey.
Music, Rolfe Kent; music supervisor, Tracy McKnight; production designer, Missy Stewart; art director, James Truesdale; set decorator, Anne Kuljian.
Costume designers, Ellen Mirojnick, Johanna Argan.
Sound, Ed Novick; supervising sound editor, Michael Babcock; re-recording mixers, Tom Ozanich, Tim Leblanc, Babcock.
Visual effects supervisor, Marc Varisco; visual effects, Asylum; stunt coordinators, Doug Coleman, Allen Robinson; assistant director, James LaRocca; second unit director, Coleman; second unit camera, Kevin McKnight.
Casting, Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood, Jennifer Smith.
MPAA Rating: PG-13.
Running time: 99 Minutes.