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Bad Movie Tuesday: Killing Them Softly With Their Accents

September 17, 2013

Killing Season poster

Robert DeNiro and John Travolta have starred in many fantastic films. The Killing Season is not one of them. Travolta channels Borat, DeNiro looks like he is sleeping and the facial hair is immaculate. The Killing Season fails because it lacks anything that would make it interesting (normal accents, grime, less monologues). When the similar film The Hunted  was released the producers/directors/actors talked about injuries, training and boot camps. The movie had an alive feel that was real, gritty and tough. The producers wanted something new and exciting and that is evident from this quote:

“Billy (William Friedkin) was adamant that we show a style of knife-fighting nobody had ever seen in a movie before,” recalls producer James Jacks. “At one point, when Tommy and Benicio were training, it went a little too much in the wrong direction and became like a Chuck Norris type of fight. But one of our experts was on hand to set us straight, explaining that if someone were to try a high kick [like those Norris does] his opponent would cut his Achilles tendon, and the fight would be over.”

Benicio Del Toro and Tommy Lee Jones trained for months and the realism showed up on screen. The Killing Season should have been a gritty, low budget actioneer starring two legends of cinema. However, it is too clean, too safe and odd accented.  DeNiro underplays while Travolta speaks like Boris and Natasha. The story takes place over several days yet the characters never grow beards. The clothes stay clean and Travolta’s skull cap stays perfect. The lack of realism and effort prevent this film from being anything other than a glossy film that involves zero punching of snakes.

Here is a brief synopsis. Travolta and DeNiro meet and talk. Travolta tortures DeNiro and they talk. DeNiro tortures Travolta and they talk. Travolta tortures DeNiro and they talk. DeNiro turns the tide and talks more. The movie ends.

The Killing Season is a training manual for what not to do when planning to kill a man who almost killed you in 1995. I sat in amazement as two skilled veterans monologue, put their foe in easily escapable situations and refrain from simply killing the dude when his back is turned. There are copious amounts of “Don’t: moments in the film. For example:

Don’t monologue when your victim is trapped under a wood pile.

Don’t walk around the person to look them in the eye because it will allow them time to pull shrapnel out of their leg to stab you with.

Don’t turn you back on your victim because they will untie themselves with the pin you put on their sweater

Don’t hit a table with an axe which cuts the rope that is tying your victim down.

Don’t flip over a man who is laying close to rocks because he will hit you in the face with one of the rocks.

Don’t say “I want you live long, cause all the creatures come and nibble on your insides” because the guy will have more time to grab a knife and cut himself down.

It reminded me of Edgar Wright’s Don’t trailer

The movie could have been a gritty barn burner but instead took the easy road and paid for it (10% on RT). The word of mouth would have been incredible if it was good. The curiosity factor added with buzz could have created another career highlight. Instead,  the beards stay trimmed, the clothes stay clean and nobody seemed to care. This is a shame because the actors are capable of so much yet never attempted to make this something more.

The Killing Season is lazy cinema. Watch The Hunted instead. Remember that these guys starred in The Deer Hunter, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, Saturday Night Fever and Raging Bull. 

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