Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

There’s a rather long and sordid history behind this movie ‘Killshot’ that I won’t even begin to get into but you, at your leisure, go ahead and use your favorite search engine to unearth all the good reading that goes behind getting this movie out to us, the consumer. This information will go long away to explaining why a movie that has an Academy Award nominated director, a couple of Academy Award nominated actors including the resurgent Mickey Rourke has somehow bypassed theaters and went straight to DVD. As I have said many, many times this is great for me and my little, rarely seen television show that only focuses on straight to DVD movies, but I’m sure that’s not what the Weinstein Brothers had planned for their proposed masterpiece when they ponied up the millions to get this thing made. Sure John Madden’s ‘Killshot’ isn’t all that good but I have sat in a theater seat and seen way, way worse.

Our film opens with Native American(?) hitman Armand ‘Blackbird’ Degas (Rourke) narrating our story about the rules behind a hit while he does the deed along with his somewhat wacky baby brother. Baby bro doesn’t follow these rules and accidentally gets killed in the process which will haunt our Native American antagonist until the end of his days. After this unfortunate event Armand had pretty much hung up his Glock until he gets a call from a Toronto mobster requesting that he pull off a particularly dicey gig. The money is good and thus Armand is en route to Detroit to off this old time gangster (Hal Holbrook), but in accordance to his own rules he also offs this gangster’s moll who he well knows is part of the scheme to kill this guy, despite the fact she wasn’t part of the deal, but hey… the man has rules, she’s seen his face. Thing is that this Toronto Mobster who hired Armand was doing this chick and apparently that cookie was really tasty leading to one really pissed off gangster. Now the Blackbird is hiding out because the hit is now on him.

Soon we’ll meet the completely off his rocker stick up kid Richie Nix (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and his slutty girlfriend Donna (Rosario Dawson). Richie is a complete idiot

and has come up with this plan to threaten and blackmail this real-estate agent, which by chance has led to him making the acquaintance of Blackbird who sees a lot of is wacky dead baby brother in Richie, and decides go in with him on this scheme.

Next we meet Carmen Colson (Diane Lane) and her estranged husband construction worker husband Wayne (Thomas Jane). Carmen works for this real estate agent and Wayne happens to be at the office to try to get a job when Richie and Armand show up mistaking him for the owner of the joint. Wayne thwarts their plan but unfortunately the couple has seen Armand’s face which we well know by now is a violation of his precious rules.

All other kinds of stuff is happening such as Richie acting stupid on numerous occasions, the Colson’s getting relocated to witness protection, Armand has a run in with the mob dudes trying to hunt him down and kill him, but naturally it all comes to the ‘showdown'. Will our estranged couple be able to survive the relentless attack of our deranged Native American killer?

I don’t know much about the business of movies but I’m thinking ‘Killshot’ had enough material in it to make a couple of really cool trailers and it certainly had some star power, so now you only need movie voice dude John LaFontaine’s eventual replacement to rip off some smooth voiced trailer narration in vein of: ‘From the producer of Pulp Fiction (Harvey Weinstein) and Academy Award nominated director John Madden…’ (We will casually omit that this nomination was for ‘Shakespeare in Love’), then follow that up with some exciting rhetoric and a few shootouts that were in this movie and it makes its money back easy. I bet you. ‘Nights in Rodanthe’ made money so there are people out there who will pay to watch Diane Lane do ANYTHING.

But back to the movie itself, the mail problem I had with this movie other than the fact it was generic, was that I really couldn’t wrap my brain around why Blackbird had to kill these people. And that’s pretty much the entire axis of the movie. Yeah, they saw his face but nobody cares. Killing the gangster moll just plain silly since she did usher him into the room, but she saw his face. The Colson’s were just happy to be alive and were going about the business of dealing with whatever problems they were having but they saw his face. If Blackbird just goes his merry way after the botched extortion attempt, the movie is basically over because nobody’s looking for him. Except the Toronto mob that is, all of whom, by the way, has seen his face.

The relationship between husband and wife was an undercooked little plot device with the couple coming off as spoiled and whiny, with the whole element of that part of the story failing to integrate all that well into the basic narrative, despite the obvious effort that Diane Lane and Thomas Jane put into trying to make this story line work. Joseph Gordon-Levitt took over-the-top to depths never seen before which was somewhat disappointing considering his excellent performances in ‘Brick’ and ‘The Lookout’. Though we’d hate to see less of Rosario Dawson in any setting, her talent was virtually wasted in this movie and quite honestly they could’ve gotten any freaking body to what she was asked to do, and the Weinstein’s probably could’ve saved themselves a few dollars in the process. Mickey Rourke almost saves the day with his cool, nutty, deranged, principled to a fault hitman. A Native American though? I’m not to sure that about one. Might’ve wanted to alter the script a bit once the Irishman came on board I’m thinking.

Though ‘Killshot’ is watchable and marginally entertaining, when it went off you just kind sat their thinking to yourself ‘Hmmm… I think this should’ve been way better’. Then you move on. That’s too bad because this really should’ve been way better than it was, but I think the Weinstein’s could’ve made a few bucks on it by releasing it to theaters. Good for me though.

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