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KILLSHOT with Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Thomas Jane, Joseph
Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson and Hal Holbrook, directed by John
MICKEY Rourke's intense and interesting performance as a troubled hit-man lifts this structurally flawed adaptation of Elmore Leonard's gritty crime novel. Directed by John Madden ("Shakespeare in Love"), the film is never as much fun as the book, which was a violent, witty and richly enjoyable slice of ultra-sleazy pulp fiction. But, despite all it's fault (the movie was completed in 2006, but is only being released now), "Killshot" is not a total dead loss and is likely to be enjoyed by genre fans who approach it with low expectations. Oscar-nominee Rourke ("The Wrestler") plays Armand "The Blackbird" Degas ,a veteran, half Indian hit-man for the Toronto mob who slays his boss's girlfriend during a hit. Returning to the rural area where he was raised, he pairs up with dim-witted young psychopath Richie Nix (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Then, when, when the lovely Carmen Colson (a sexy, effective Diane Lane) sees Armand's face during a botched crime, he decides she must die. And the chase is on. "Killshot is a rather messy film that shows evidence of post-production edits and re-shoots, but Armand, Carmen and Richie are classic Leonard characters, there're one or two good shoot-outs and at least the films retains some of the master crime writer's wonderful trademark dialogue. Nice scenery too. As a Leonard fanatic, I wouldn't have missed the chance to see this on the big screen for anything (it's been given a national cinema release in South Africa - not a huge one, but way bigger than five screens in Phoenix ). I wasn't expecting much, so I certainly was not disappointed. Quite a bit of the book comes through and although Gordon-Levitt - usually one of my favourite young actors - sometimes goes to far over the top, the supporting cast is pretty good. Thomas Jane and (a totally miscast) Rosario Dawson have some nice moments and there's a cool cameo by the great Hal Holbrook . However, the interaction between Armand and Carmen Colson is nowhere near as intriguing as in the book (perhaps this has something to do with the notorious Weinstein scissors) and even though the picture has been pruned to 84 minutes it still drags in the second half. Reading Elmore Leonard's website the other night, I noticed that the maestro has seen the film (apparently a 100-minute cut) and seems to have enjoyed it, which tells us something. This flawed, but watchable (there's a good film lurking in there somewhere) movie should have been released to more cinemas in the States. Sadly, it doesn't look as if that's going to happen, but I can tell you one thing. It's going to be a solid renter when it hits DVD. Hopefully the distributor will release both this 84-minute cut and a longer version on disc. And let's hope we get to see Johnny Knoxville's deleted scenes, and a director commentary. But I suppose it will only come out in a vanilla version shorn of special features.
My Rating: 6 out of 10 (on the big screen).
PS. Drop the score down to 5/10 for the DVD - I've now seen the (South African release)DVD which in the 1.78 aspect ration ratio rather than 2.35.1 and looks shoddy compared to how it looked on the big screen. The film really falls to pieces on a second viewing.
KILLSHOT is far from being a great movie. I suppose it could be said
that it isn't even a movie, but instead a DVD project as it has a
rather leaden history. But though there was no theatrical release to
garner public interest and little promotional material about its shelf
release, it may just find an audience among word of mouth promotion. It
has enough elements to keep the interest of even late at night tired
viewers - and that says a lot these days. Elmore Leonard's novel has
been reconstructed by Hossein Amini and John Madden has done his best
to string together the various beads of the plots that comprise this
story, and the result is a film peppered by some worthwhile actors who
do their best to make the implausible story lines work.
Armand 'Blackbird' Degas (Mickey Rourke) is a long time hit-man, an American Indian with a past pasted together by tragedies who accepts an assignment to make a new kill. His plan is disrupted by his accidental and maladaptive association with a bona fide psychopath Richie Nix (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and girlfriend Donna (Rosario Dawson). Nix decides to partner with Blackbird and in the process they encounter a 'couple on the rocks' - Carmen and Wayne Colson (Thomas Jane and Diane Lane) - who happen to witness an incident that puts them in danger of Nix and Blackbird's recipe for not leaving witnesses. The couple is put on Witness Protection Program but that doesn't dent the clever Blackbird from accomplishing his goals. The rest of the story is a cat and mouse chase that has some moments of real terror. And as in most of Leonard's stories, things don't turn out the way they seem to suggest.
Things are missing from this film that create holes in the story and stretch credibility. The work by the lead actors is quite good as is that of the momentary cameos by such luminaries as Hal Holbrook and Lois Smith. A great film this is not, but a film that maintains attention/tension it is and worth an evening's entertainment. Grady Harp
I've watched this film after getting suggested by a friend of mine.
First of all, I did take a look at the cast: Mickey Rourke, Rosario
Dawson, Diane Lane, Tom Jane... I thought that I couldn't go wrong even
with Rourke and Dawson alone like in Sin City, but I was mistaken.
Rourke pretends to be a Native Indian, and does his job real good, but he is no Native Indian even nearly. The character of Rosario Dawson is wasted totally, you can cut it off and forget easily. Diane Lane did her part just fine. Tom Jane tried to perform like a super-man from The Punisher, but he was clearly no supposed to.
The story line is predictable extremely. Even though the whole thing starts up pretty promising, it degrades in quality quickly and leads to a dumb, really dumb end. I cannot believe that a professional hit-man can do so many mistakes one after another. And I do know for sure what a close shot of Remington 870 means.
So, we have a mediocre thriller to watch once upon a time and never return. Without Rourke and Lane it wouldn't even score 6/10 in my opinion.
The plot summary of Killshot sounds as one of many cheap thrillers
which infest the dusty shelves of video stores and the night hour from
some modest cable-TV channels, because we have two formulas we have
seen on many movies from this genre: the retired killer who is going to
do his last job, but is betrayed by his powerful bosses and the couple
who accidentally witness a crime and have to run from the
murderers.But...wait a minute! Killshot is based on a book written by
the brilliant Elmore Leonard,the cast includes various solid actors
(Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson and
Thomas Jane) and it is directed by John Madden, an Academy Award
nominated filmmaker with a competent filmography of art-house films.In
other words, before watching this movie, you do not have to expect a
cheap straight-to-DVD action film in the lines of the ones which are
starred by Wesley Snipes, Marc Dacascos or Steven Seagal.Killshot
resulted to be a good thriller,and although it is not very memorable,it
kept me entertained.
The story from this film is a bit predictable, but the intense performances and precise direction increase the suspense, so the final result is a competent thriller which achieves a good combination between Leonard's "noir" sensibility and a modern cinematographic style.
I liked the atmosphere of a small town this movie brings and to see the story set in the frontier of the United States and Canada,offering a different landscape to the typical locations from Los Ángeles or New York.I think the best elements from Killshot are its methodical rhythm and the logical chain of causes and consequences which drive us to a satisfactory ending.Although Killshot does not have much in common with Madden's previous films (Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Proof and the famous Shakespeare in Love), his mature and disciplined work is also seen in here, because he lets the story to flow on a natural rhythm.
In conclusion, Killshot is an entertaining thriller, and I can give a recommendation to it, in spite of being a bit predictable and not very memorable.
Lots of actors seemingly heading for the scrap heap have made memorable
comebacks. Burt Reynold in "Boogie Nights" , John Travolta in " Pulp
Fiction" and Sylvester Stallone in " Copland" are the three obvious
examples. The most recent High profile comeback has been Mickey Rourke
in the magnificent film " The Wrestler" but was it just a flash in the
When real estate agent Carmen Colson catches a glimpse of a hit-man named the Blackbird as he carries out a job, a subsequent request for her to testify against the aging gun for hire soon lands both Carmen and her husband, Wayne , in the Witness Protection Program. Blackbird isn't a man who likes to leave loose ends when it comes to his work, though, and now as the seasoned assassin and his psychotic partner attempt to catch the couple in their crosshairs, Carmen and Wayne are going to need much more than a few federal agents to make it out of increasingly deadly situation alive
Killshot is one of those low budget films that got a very limited release at the start of the year. In fact according to imdbPro.com in the first two weeks of release in the US it grossed just $17,000. When i read details like this it always rings alarm bells. I needn't have worried because Killshot is a really entertaining , well acted thriller of which i thoroughly enjoyed. I found Mickey Rourke's performance an intense one and he has proved to me that he is back with a bang for good! There is also some great acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the gorgeous Diane Lane.
If your into violent gang related movies you wont be disappointed with Killshot. It delivers on all fronts. The story is believable as are the characters and the final twenty minutes produces real "edge of the seat" excitement. My only criticism is that it does have the feel of a Cable or straight to DVD movie but i cant quite put my finger on why. It shouldn't be a surprise that a film directed by John Madden is as entertaining considering he has brought us "Prime Suspect" , "Inspector Morse" and "Shakespeare in Love" in the past.
Killshot is released on DVD in the U.S on May the 26th and has no date yet for a cinema or DVD release here in the UK.
7 out of 10
The story around this movie reminds me of the movie 'What Just Happened' which is about movie production and how a brutal atypical movie gets a bad preview screening and has to be strongly edited and isn't widely distributed. This is much the same situation, the movie is not filled with much beauty in life, other than Diana Lane. Always bad weather, depraved characters with few redeeming features, elements of hopelessness and it was apparently edited because of this. That said it's not bad. Professional editing, lighting, direction. Fairly catching story line, good acting and famous actors. I'm pretty sure I've seen widely released movies that were much worse. In what seems like a long dry spell of bad movies this winter, this can definitely be watched. Aside from a few clever details this isn't much different from 'No country for Old Men'
Killshot should have had its day in court theatrically. It was a
property that had been in the works for many years dating back to the
mid-90s with the Weinsteins and nearly being made with a very
intriguing pairing of De Niro in what is now Mickey Rourke's part of
Blackbird and Quentin Tarantino in Joseph Gordon-Levitt's part of
Richie Nix. And now, several years later, it comes to us direct to DVD
(if it had a theatrical release I certainly missed it somehow), and
considering its presentation as such, without any special features (out
of shame or just not being able to get anyone for comment?) it's not
that bad. At least, not as bad as one might expect, that it would be
another total bastardization of a classic Elmore Leonard novel filled
with talky tough guys and flawed good guys and one of those plots
that's more about character than story. Well, at least not entirely.
Its story is simple: hired killer with a bad rep, Blackbird, is seen by a guy (Thomas Jane) and his ex (Diane Lane) at a real estate office, and he and his not-really partner/mentee low-life Richie Nix need to go after them, because, as the line goes "she's seen my face." There's witness protection program moving, and eventually the killers follow up on their targets, yada yada. The story seems fine, on paper. But there's something curious to it not being super suspenseful or engaging all the time (though there are some exceptions, which I'll get to in a moment), and I think it's due to John Madden's direction. It's slick but impersonal, without a whole lot of urgency and in a few scenes seemingly phoned-in. He's a director who's made a name with romance dramas sometimes successful (Shakespeare) and not (Corelli's Mandolin) and he doesn't feel at home directing something that should have been in more capable genre-director hands. Indeed, and I can't believe I'm writing this, the original choice, Tony Scott, would have been a more ideal candidate.
So if the script is only marginally strong, depending on when or when not it seems to take its cues (if not actually take from the source) of the Leonard novel (certain scenes like the Elvis dialog, or the joke about Nix "not like Stevie Nicks, have that Leonard feel, while the characters Lane and Jane play are barely two-dimensional), and the direction only competent, why the partial recommendation? Because, for the most part, the casting works. Mickey Rourke could have potentially sleep-walked through the part, but there is something of a good performance kicking around, and some scenes, like his last scene of dialog with Carmen is compelling and the method he employs (one can see Rourke sticking around Indian reservations for months for such a thankless film) work its stuff. Lane is also very good as the scared but strong Carmen, while Jane is... yeah, it's Thomas Jane, not so great.
But the real keeper here is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This is an actor who has worked since he was young (I remember him as early as the Angels in the Outfield remake), and he's gotten better to the point that his name carries some weight. In Killshot we see him dig into what could be a conventional sociopath-maniac and give him life, moments that connect, like that very Leonard scene where he gives Carmen's mother a back-rub while in her house getting possible info. He, like Rourke, understand what potential there is in the material and seizes upon it. If the filmmakers were on the same page with (some) of the cast, it would be very memorable. Instead, it's something that one can feel a little bad for not making it just limited theatrically, but not that it may be forgotten in time like some other Leonard adaptations.
I saw the movie after checking its rating on IMDb. Back then, it was at
8.0 and I thought, "wow! That must be a good one". I thought wrong. The
beginning of the movie actually keeps what the plot promises, but then
it goes exponentially down underneath its basement. I think without the
character of Richie Nix, it might have been alright - although he is
the reason the story line takes the course it does. The character is
just too extreme for my liking, and hard to endure. Also, the journey
the main character takes from the beginning of the story till its
"climax" at the end is partly irrelevant and could easily have been
omitted - the alternative is, I just did not understand the movie.
Although I must admit that it is "easy watching", and I had no problems sitting through the whole movie, when it had finished I was somewhat unimpressed by the ending. All in all, rather mediocre.
Well, Killshot is not awful, but it comes close. Production values are decent and the main actors do a pretty good job (except for Rosario Dawson in a wasted role), but the story is just pathetic. I don't know if the Elmore Leonard book had such dumb characters,since I haven't read it, but I'm guessing that the book was supposed to be at least slightly humorous. The movie has no detectable humor. After the first twenty minutes, you'll be yelling at the screen, "Oh, come on! Nobody's THAT stupid!!" In a nutshell, and without any spoilers, everybody acts in a manner convenient to the plot, which makes no sense anyway. A very frustrating and unrealistic movie, which may account for it sitting on the shelf for as long as it did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Killshot had some issues before it was released in 2008. The studio
that owned it went through a sale, it needed a lot of re-shoots, and a
character was dropped completely from the film after a bad test
screening. The film got a very limited release then went straight to
DVD. This is one of the few times a straight to DVD film is actually
decent. It was based on a book by Elmore Leonard.
The film stars Mickey Rourke (Blackbird) as a hired mob assassin who makes a mistake and his hunted by his employer. He meets up with a psychopathic small time hood excellently played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Richie). They attempt to shake down a real estate agent but end up mistaking Wayne Colson played by Thomas Jane for the agent. Wayne ends up beating up Blackbird and Richie. Wayne's wife Carmen, played by Diane Lane, who works at the same agency sees the fight and sees Blackbird. It seems Blackbird has a thing about people seeing him work and he decides that Wayne and Carmen need to die.
The rest of the film deals with Blackbird and Richie trying to kill the Colsons.
I really wasn't expecting much but the plot kept me interested. Rourke was believable as a native American and Gordon-Levitt just chewed up scene after scene as his buddy in crime.
Thomas Jane as Wayne was decent. He was a bad ass when he needed to be and he could do well in the tender moments with the wife.
Diane Lane had her "A" game on. She shines in the last third of the movie especially during the final confrontation with Blackbird and his friend.
If this had gotten better support from the studio and a real theatrical release I feel it would have done okay at the box office. Rent or buy this and see if it comes on TV.
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