Kill List – 4 out of 5
Kill List came recommended to me from a friend, a follower of my blog and a fan of my reviews. He told me that the film left a mark on him when it ended but I didn’t hear that part because I thought he said, “Check out my kill list,” rather than what he actually said, “Check out Kill List.” When I realized I wasn’t speaking to a person who was about to enact a killing spree on people he perceived wronged him, I popped the film to the top of my Netflix queue (name drop, give me money, Netflix!) and was incredibly surprised with what I saw.
The film is about a semi-retired hitman named Jay (Neil Maskell) that is hesitant to return to the life after a botched job. However, his partner Gal (Michael Smiley) informs him that he has an easy job lined up for the two of them that will pay big after they run down a short list of future victims. At the behest of his wife and the fact their funds are running low, Jay and Gal meet with a shadowy, secretive man who, literally, has the hit contract signed in blood as he cuts Jay's and his own hand—at the very least, they became blood brothers! Everything seems normal until the victims start to act strangely when they see Jay and even offer up gratitude for their impending death. It isn’t long before they have the list whittled down to one name but then, by that time, things have really taken a turn for the “WHAT THE FUCK?!?” as Jay and Gal learn that not all is as they seem on this job.
|"Alright, let me get one thing straight...this is a gun, right?"|
First off, the story is great in this movie, the editing is just tremendous, the violence is hard to watch and brutal (but in a way that you want from a movie about hitmen) and the acting is incredible…and then the film throws a curveball at you and gives you an ending that I wasn’t prepared for. Sure, the movie gives you a few clues that an out-of-the-ordinary ending is about to come up and slap itself in your face but I was never truly prepared.
|Don't worry, kids, that's just red Kool-Aid pouring out of his mouth...and jam...|
yeah, jam...covering his face.
I have to admit, I had some reservations about the film when it started. The film starts slowly and kind of sloppy as we are thrown into the troubled relationship between Jay and his wife; Shel (MyAnna Buring—yes, her name is MyAnna). Once I got the idea that the film was establishing the emotional and relationship problems Jay is going through, it was easy to get into the film’s story and it no longer felt like it was moving at a snail’s pace. However, it took a little while longer to get behind the lead of the film because he seemed a little soft-around-the-edges to be a hitman.
|I think the problem in their marriage stems from the fact she gets blurry sometimes.|
While Neil Maskell is terrific in his performance as Jay, it was hard to really take him seriously at first because he just didn’t look like a hitman to me. I can thank your typical Hollywood big-budget action film for that because when I saw Maskell, I saw a guy who looks more like a person who should be working in accounting than carefully inserting bullets into brain-matter. However, I was force to eat my original preconceived notions as Maskell showed off some amazing acting chops and his ability to show some true rage on screen stopped him from looking like a guy who probably brags to his friends about the new energy saving appliances he installed in his condo and more like a guy who can successfully kill you a dozen times over armed with nothing but a paperclip...and not even a complete paperclip but a broken one.
|He killed 15 people with that face alone...he's just that good.|
The aspect that kept me glued to this movie above all other things (as I stated, there are some great things going on in this movie) has to be that the film never over-explains anything that unfolds in the story and allows the viewer to pick up on little details and clues to the shocking ending. The film starts straight forward enough with a tale about some hired hitmen ready to do what hitmen do (I’ll give you a hint—because I’m a hintman—it involves murder) and things get progressively stranger but does so at a pace where you never question the oddities that are playing before you…or at least, you don’t question them to the point it takes you out of the film. The strange behavior that riddles the victims as they are about to meet whatever deity they worship only made me watch the film that much more closely in order to take in every bit of information the film was throwing at you and, in doing so, made the ending that much more powerful.
|"Okay, here's the next guy on our list...hey, he's mooning us. Now I can't wait|
to kill him!"
I hate to sum up films entirely on one aspect but the ending is where it’s at with Kill List. Yes, the film’s story is engaging and interesting, the acting is addicting to watch and the editing is some of the best I’ve ever seen but the twist at the end (and I am fighting like hell to not give out even a single clue that could constitute as a spoiler) really cemented this film in my memory. It literally left an impact on me that left me trying to wrap my brain around what I just saw. I actually sat silently through the entire credits and replayed the entire film in my head trying to remember little hints and details that can fully explain the ending. I’m not saying the climax of the film is difficult to interpret (it’s pretty straight forward); it’s just that the film doesn’t take the time to explain the little details of it. Sure you get the gist of what just unfolded but the film leaves the Who, What and Why up to you to determine…and that’s what I dug the most.
|They're trying to find a rave, aren't they?|
Kill List doesn’t lay it all out on the table for you. It allows the viewer to fill in the blanks and interpret the final moments in their own way. There was a reason that Jay and Gal were chosen to do this extremely specific job but the film will not reveal it in detail. Obviously the film feeds you the bare minimum of the question “Why?” but it refuses to give you the specifics. So rare is it that a film will allow the audience to make up their own minds about the events they just saw and that has to be the best (and most memorable) part of this film.