Directed by Robert Luketic
The obvious reference for this high concept situational comedy is Doug Liman’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” which first brought the pairing of Brangelina to light. For many reasons, “Killers” completely misses the point of why that movie worked by never figuring out how to blend the comedy, the romance and the action into anything that feels like it belongs in the same movie.
As the movie begins with Heigl’s character on vacation to the beaches of Nice, France with her parents, played by Tom Selleck and Katherine O’Hara, she’s just broken up with her latest boyfriend and trying to have a good time. As we watch her being humiliated by her parents, we also meet Ashton Kutcher’s super-spy Spencer Aimes, who is on assignment in Nice. Once he encounters Jen in a “meet cute” elevator moment, he’s ready to give it all up to be with her. Some time later, they’re back in the States, and Spencer is asking Jen’s father to marry her. Three years later, they’re married–seriously, time move fast in a high concept world–before Spence is contacted by his former boss and Jen gets dragged into her husband’s business.
Who knows where to begin with a movie that may have had potential on paper, but logistically could never have worked since it lacks the focus and direction to pull together elements that are always difficult to mix.
This is Heigl’s second movie with director Robert Luketic, and he doesn’t do much to make her look better than she did in “The Ugly Truth.” She’s once again playing dumb, ditzy and bitchy while changing her hairstyle every few minutes. Some may have hoped Heigl would overcome the rom-com traps that have killed many an actresses’ career. She seems to have fallen right in, collecting easy paychecks by taking movies that require very little stretching beyond the one character she’s proven she can play. The first time she did it (“Knocked Up”), it was charming, the second time (“27 Dresses”), there was enough chemistry with her co-star to make it work. Now with a fourth movie playing essentially the same character, not even Heigl’s proclivity for walking around in underwear can make her bearable as the poster girl for shallowness.
Kutcher seems to be trying to play a suave macho character rather than his usual goofy doofus, spending much of the movie sans shirt to appease his teen female Twitter followers. Even sans shirt, there’s just nothing about Kutcher that could have possibly made anyone (except maybe producer Ashton Kutcher) think he could pass himself off as a spy even compared to say, Steve Carell in the much funnier spy comedy “Get Smart.”
As soon as these two actors appear on screen together, it’s obvious they have absolutely ZERO chemistry and yet you’re then forced to endure another hour and 20 minutes of them trying to make it work. When this continues to fail, it’s decided that throwing in a few car chases and shootouts is what it needs to be taken seriously as a spy movie, but it seems to come from out of left field after all the romance and relationship stuff. Once the action kicks in, Heigl and Kutcher spend the entire time on screen squabbling which makes their relationship even less palatable than it was before… and that’s saying a lot!
If the plot weren’t already enough of a mess, Jen suddenly realizes she’s pregnant during one of the car chases, something added hoping to add another layer of humor to a movie that’s tanking quickly. As ridiculous as the whole thing may have seemed before, this new element which has them going to the store for a pregnancy test will probably end anyone’s patience with the movie. If that doesn’t do it, there’s roughly two minutes of drama when Jen questions whether to stay with Spencer because he lied to her. She then remembers what he looks like without a shirt and that drama ends immediately.
If you have any trouble believing Kutcher as an international assassin, wait until you see the motley roster of comic actors who show up as killers trying to collect the bounty on his head. How the filmmakers found a way to suck all the funny out of Rob Riggle and Alex Borstein, two of the funniest comics working, while trying to pass them off as assassins may be the most mind-boggling thing about the movie.
Sure, Luketic knows how to make a good-looking movie just fine, but he apparently blew his entire production budget filming the opening scene in Nice, because when the movie shifts to the suburbs, it just isn’t a glamorous enough setting to keep things exciting. Luketic isn’t particularly good at directing action, but the dorky comedy soundtrack doesn’t help much either.
One of the movie’s few saving graces is Catherine O’Hara as Heigl’s mother, although she’s essentially a one-joke character who likes to drink in excessive amounts. Yes, the movie’s only laughs come from its attempt to find humor in alcoholism. Hurray for Hollywood. Tom Selleck has a few fun moments with Kutcher, but the guy never had much range… so he fits right in.
On top of everything else, there’s a seriously retarded twist once we learn why all their neighbors and friends seem so hellbent on killing them. We won’t spoil it, but it does nothing to save a movie that probably should have been aborted in the script phase. The fact it wooed two A-minus-list stars and a mainstream director with a string of hits under his belt onboard is beyond staggering.
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