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Genre Thriller
Year: 2008

Killshot was originally intended for Tony Scott with Robert De Niro and Quentin Tarantino in the shoes of Armand and Richie. The long-awaited release of Killshot features Mickey Rourke and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who star opposite Diane Lane and Thomas Jane. The cast is strong on paper and the performances are what carries this crime/thriller based on the novel by Elmore Leonard. It’s Rourke’s portrayal of “The Blackbird” that overshadows excellent turns by Gordon-Levitt and Lane. While Thomas Jane (The Mist) and Rosario Dawson (25th Hour) support the big three with more than competent roles. Killshot has elements from some contemporary crime/thrillers… Rosario Dawson’s role is a reflection of her performance opposite Edward Norton in Spike Lee’s 25th Hour. Armand is played with a similar vindiction to Javier Bardem’s Anton. While the relationship dynamic and role of Wayne Colson has similarities with A History of Violence. While this crime/thriller embodies these parallels it still manages to come across as an original.

The film hinges on its performances with mistaken identity and an ensuing cat-and-mouse game providing the thrills. The tension and assassin’s philosophy behind this movie is fascinating. The title provides the platform for many echoes of making your shot count, and the ensuing irony delivers a strong finish. However, the film is unevenly paced and seems like an imitation of what Tony Scott, Robert De Niro and Quentin Tarantino would have delivered, with the exception of Rourke. His cold, calculated presence is chilling and the Native American heritage of his character adds a spirtual dimension to his brooding eyes. He’s the complete opposite of Gordon-Levitt, whose frenetic performance is like he’s playing Tarantino playing Richie. Diane Lane contributes a sterling effort as Carmen Colson, which would’ve been even more compelling without Rourke’s scene-grabbing.

The film does run about 15 minutes shy and suspense substitutes for violence. The metaphor of the duck hunt underpins the narrative, and also provides a nice whiplash. However, the gravity of the film only really makes an impact on the home stretch. Once the punch has been delivered, the film runs out of gas. What remains is that the enigma of Mickey Rourke should be your primary reason to see Killshot. John Madden’s direction elevates the drama of this piece, but the thriller aspects of this film don’t seem to live up to the strong title. Killshot is grounded in reality and doesn’t have the same budget or cross-country chases as a Shooter. So if you can appreciate dramatic weight in favour of blood and elaborate escape scenes, then rest your crosshair on Killshot.

The bottom line: Intense.

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