A Most Violent Year
New York, 1981. An ambitious immigrant businessman tries to stay legit, despite stiff competition and violent threats from his ruthless, corrupt and often criminal rivals
Action-comedy about a cutesy couple living a perfect life in the 'burbs. But Ashton Kutcher's past as a lethal trained assassin (stop laughing back there) is about to catch up with them
Killers sees poor Katherine Heigl discover that her new hubby used to be an assassin, in Hollywood's latest attempt to make "the action movie that also appeals to girls" / "the rom-com that also appeals to boys". If only someone would throw the demographic pie-charts out of the window and concentrate on making "the film that is actually good". Killers is admittedly better than two of this year's other attempts at blending action, comedy and romance (Did You Hear About The Morgans, in which Hugh Grant is menaced by a bear, and The Bounty Hunter, in which Jennifer Aniston is menaced by Gerard Butler). At this rate of improvement, we'll be in three-star review territory by, ooh, say 2040.
Heigl's character is a ditzy, insecure but terminally gorgeous gal, recently dumped and on holiday with her parents, when she meets Ashton Kutcher's secret agent, a man desperate to pack in the killings and lead a quiet life. They marry and move to what looks like the set of The Stepford Wives (are there really places in America like this?) and blend in with a community of zealous lawn-mowing enthusiasts. But as it turns out, their whitebread neighbours are mostly sleeper agents set to take down Kutcher for reasons that make marginally less sense than giving Ashton Kutcher a Nobel prize in Physics for his work on the TV series Punk'd.
Not that the nonsensical plot really matters. Killers asks us to buy Kutcher as a top CIA hitman, signalling from the get-go that we are not supposed to be taking this film seriously, and anyway implausibility has never been a stumbling block in screwball comedy. Is the escaped leopard mix-up in Bringing Up Baby remotely likely? Do we really believe that anyone would mistake Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon for women in Some Like It Hot for even a split second? Nope, and we don't care, because the charisma and wit of the actors and scripts carry the day.
Sadly there's not much charisma or wit on display in Killers. It's certainly no worse - faint praise alert - than your average sitcom and as such will make a perfectly acceptable date movie for many cinemagoers, drawn by the promise of action interlaced with romance and possibly by the charms of Kutcher/Heigl. On that note, at various points in the film, Kutcher and Heigl both take their tops off to reveal Ken-and-Barbie bodies so perfect that I strongly suspect this film of being a sophisticated experiment in using synthetic replicant actors instead of humans. If so, a huge round of applause for the outstanding tech department. The alternative scenario - that flesh-and-blood actors were paid money for these performances - seems way too far-fetched.
A mediocre marriage between the suburban assassin elements of Mr & Mrs Smith, and the phony plastic neighbours from The Truman Show, executed with all the cheap peppy conviction of an hour long 'How I Met Your Mother' special.
Kingsman agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) takes on a new rough-edged protégé (Taron Egerton) as tech mogul Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) enacts his plans for world domination
The Glasgow Film Festival programme is announced and features Film4-backed films Second Coming and Catch Me Daddy plus much, much more, from 18th February to 1st March It¿s almost time once more for
As Louise Osmond's inspirational documentary about an unlikely group of friends who breed themselves a racehorse is about to premiere at Sundance 2015, Catherine Bray catches up with the director for
Find out who voted for Film4.com's list of the top 100 must-see films of the 21st Century so far
A tooth-chattering voyage through the scariest movies ever made