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Killers
Genre Comedy
Year: 2010
 
Review:

Killers is brought to you by The Ugly Truth's director, Robert Luketic and star Katherine Heigl - minus Gerard Butler. This movie is reminiscent of The Bounty Hunter, another recent "romcom" actioner about the shenanigans of a couple living under false pretences on the brink of some sort of reunification. At its best, Luketic is aiming for the lofty realm of Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief as our lead duo meet in a similar fashion to Hitchcock's escapade featuring Cary Grant and  Grace Kelly

Spencer (Kutcher) and Jen (Heigl), meet on vacation in France and marry quickly, only to be put in jeopardy when Spencer's undercover spy identity is revealed and a hefty bounty is put on his head. Their white picket fence suburban life becomes a sham and their marriage is put to the test as their neighbours start gunning for them. Unfortunately, Killers doesn't even come close to To Catch A Thief and apart from some idyllic shots of Nice, France: the director lacks the ingenuity, the familiar premise wears thin and the co-leads lack the same class and chemistry.

Killers is more comparable with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's sexy comedy thriller, Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Even then it doesn't have the goods... coming off second best as a poor man's excuse for that light, playful and slick action "romcom". As hard as they try, the duo just aren't as sexy, funny or convincing as the once "hottest couple on the planet". The film was probably given the backing on the condition that they try and imitate the format and terrific chemistry between Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski in Chuck, a TV series about an undercover spy in the vein of 24 meets Get Smart. The undercover suburban married couple episode from Season 2 resonates and intersects in several instances.

Once again, it just doesn't measure up to its influences. For starters, Ashton Kutcher has been miscast and almost manages to derail the film. Instead of trying to drum up some chemistry and magic, he remains aloof, distant and unconvincing against Heigl's typical character performance. Killers called for a stronger lead and it's as if the role had been written for Gerard Butler - the missing component from The Ugly Truth. He has a more charming, rugged and espionage-ready persona, which when contrasted with Kutcher in Killers - makes it look like father and son. Kutcher is self-conscious and never looks comfortable, acting as though he's receiving his lines through an earpiece.

The short bursts of action help sustain interest in this lack-lustre thriller as Kutcher becomes a prime target, but it's too little too late. When one of the funniest scenes in the film is Kutcher trying to grow a moustache like co-star, Tom Selleck - you've really got to wonder why you''re still watching. Sexy-thrillers can get away with not being super funny, but they've got to deliver on sex appeal and thrills. Sadly, Killers lacks in all departments with a few awkward comedy moments and some mediocre action sequences. The whole production would have been forgivable if it wasn't for the real killer - Kutcher's literal anchor performance. Without any movie magic, it's just a case of going through the motions and sifting the script for a laugh or two.

There are even moments in the dialogue, where it's almost as if the writers are really asking Kutcher if everything's okay? It would have been less conspicuous if you could actually tell the difference between his character's normal temperament and when he seems distracted. Lines like you're acting like "a chained Rhesus monkey at the wheel" and "is everything okay between us?" echo with a hollow reverberation through the cinema. His distant character dulls everything down a notch, making the suspense less suspenseful, the funny less funny and the action less threatening. Perhaps Luketic gave Kutcher the wrong impression when he suggested that he embody a certain numbness in the killer's disposition?

It's a real pity that the co-leads didn't click. This film had serious potential, which is exactly why most people will see it. No one wants to watch a dull "romcom", even if there are one or two car chases and explosions thrown in for good measure. Killers flags when contrasted with Mr. & Mrs. Smith and we can only hope that Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz don't fall into the same trap as The Bounty Hunter and Killers with the upcoming Knight and Day. Without the trio of Luketic, Heigl and Butler from The Ugly Truth, a sulky performance from Kutcher just leaves static air between the screen and the audience - making the whole experience quite sterile and unnecessary.

The bottom line: Forced.

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