You see it above, The dreaded question mark which leaves no question that
something is amiss.
A lot in this case.
Killshot is a routine gangster flick about a divorcing couple who witness an
attempted murder, and thus become targets for the killers. The FBI sends them
into witness protection, but the killers are quite a bit smarter than the FBI
and figure out a way to fake their own deaths, thus flushing the witnesses out
of hiding and back to their home.
The film is not without positives, the strongest of which is the powerful,
dominating presence of Mickey Rourke as a cool and composed native American (?!)
who works as a professional killer. The story comes from an Elmore Leonard book,
and Mr. Leonard's work has inspired several memorable films, including Jackie
Brown, Get Shorty, Out of Sight, two versions of The Big Bounce, and two
versions of 3:10 to Yuma. The cinematographer is Caleb Deschanel, arguably the
best in the business (5 Oscar nominations). The director is John Madden, who was
nominated for an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. The supporting cast is solid as
well. Diane Lane and Tom Jane play the endangered couple, and the legendary
screen beauty even puts in a few minutes in a t-shirt without a bra in a cold
And she looks so young.
Because she was!
And that brings us back to the matter of the question mark. You're probably
wondering why a film with all that A-list and B-list firepower is going straight
to the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. Long story.
Killshot had a troubled development process. Filming was completed in 2005, but
that footage proved incapable of being edited into an acceptable film, so the
principals were called back for more shooting in January of 2007. In the
re-writing process, one main character was eliminated altogether, so Johnny
Knoxville, who was featured prominently in the original theatrical trailer back
in 2006, ended up being cut from the film completely. At various times, script
revisions were done by Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, both of whom were
inconsiderate enough to die before the film could be completed. At one time
Quentin Tarantino was attached to the film in some type of producer status, but
he didn't end up signing the scorecard. Over the years, the film had been tentatively scheduled
for a release in five or six different periods, all of which got postponed as the
key distribution deadlines approached. At least some of that had to do with
internal problems at the Weinstein studio. In the process of reorganizing their
operation in the past year or so, the Weinsteins tried (and failed) to sell
their rights to this film, but no other studios took the bait. After all the
starts and stops, the film's final theatrical presence in North America was
limited to a trial run in five theaters in Phoenix, after which the suits
decided to release it to DVD with no theatrical rollout. It might have found its
way into a few more theaters on the coattails of a Mickey Rourke Oscar, but the
Mickster lost out to Sean Penn, and that shut off the last hope for a Killshot
run in the cineplexes.
To be honest, this film is better than many theatrical releases, but everyone
could see that it was not headed for blockbuster status, and nobody was much
motivated to push it. Fixed expenses had already been covered, of course, but
nobody was confident that the film would cover the variable expenses involved in
a theatrical run. It might have grossed $20 million or so with a little luck,
but a big chunk of that would have been eaten up by the usual costs of making
prints and buying ads. Given that the studios pick up all of the variable
expenses but get only about half of the gross, and given that the cash outlays
occur before the grosses accrue, they suits didn't like their odds, so the DVD
path seemed to be less risky, especially since the Weinsteins seem to be
watching their pennies in the midst of rumored cash flow problems
So it goes.
As for the film itself, it lacks anything to make it memorable, but it's not
such a bad watch if you ignore some of the implausible elements of the script
and just focus on the positives I listed above. It would have been a mediocre
theatrical product, but as a straight-to-DVD product, it is
primo rental material for fans of the genre! The Mickster alone, fascinating as
always, makes it a worthwhile time-killer for
those who like the Elmore Leonard oeuvre.
I think you can see from the nude scenes that the film is not so bad. I left the
scenes completely intact from start to finish, each kind of a self-contained
chapter of the film, just to give you some idea of how the film flows.
In this scene, the Mickster blows away Mark Twain and a topless chick (Alexis
In this scene, the Mickster continues his murderin' ways, but does not kill
Diane Lane, who spends the entire scene
wearing only a flimsy t-shirt and panties. And remember this film was lensed
four years ago, so Diane looks that much riper!