Thursday, December 14, 2017

Killing Gunther

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I got nothing else to add here.

Killing Gunther – 2 out of 5

Killing Gunther came out on Video-on-Demand services not that long ago.  I ended up hearing about it as the writer/director Taran Killam promoted it and made the rounds on my favorite podcasts.  Like a lot of creative types, he spoke highly about it and how hard he worked on it, how great it was, and how he quit Saturday Night Live in order to get it made.  If you listened to the way he patted himself on the back, you would have thought he made a masterpiece in the world of comedy.  I checked it out and it really just felt like Killam was just trying to create hype for something that didn’t really deserve it.  I know the point is to be a salesman and sell the movie to audiences everywhere but what I watched felt incredibly generic and amazingly forgettable.

                                                                                                                  Saban Films
His promotional tour was more memorable...because he was kinda insufferable
during it.

Blake (Killam) decides he wants to be the best hitman in the world and, in order to do that, he has to take out the top dog, the ultimate competition; Robert “Gunther” Bendik (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  In order to accomplish this, he puts together a team of other hired assassins:  The daughter of a famed killer; Sanaa (Hannah Simone), the explosive expert; Donnie (Bobby Moynihan), the former extremist with a robotic arm; Izzat (Amir Talai), the poison expert; Yong (Aaron Yoo), some psychotic twins; Mia (Allison Tolman) and Barold (Ryan Gaul), a tech expert; Gabe (Paul Brittain) and seasoned hitman; Ashley (Aubrey Sixto)—although, Aubrey might be too seasoned for the game (he's old and sickly).  In order to capture his glory, Blake decides to hire a film crew to document what he is doing.  The only problem is, Blake might have underestimated Gunther and it seems he’s called the best for a reason.

                                                                                     Saban Films
He's also called the best because of his fashion sense.

Killing Gunther has periodic moments where it is amusing but it never really feels like it gets up and gets going until the last 10 minutes of the film—that’s when Arnold finally appears.  Until that point I found Bobby Moynihan’s character very amusing and I really enjoyed scenes with the character of Sanaa—especially with her father.

                                                                                                                Saban Films
I do like the concept of a hired killer being very enthusiastic over his hired
killer daughter.

However, the rest of the movie just felt bland and, despite Killam’s claims when promoting it, nothing about it stood out and commanded attention.

                                                                                                                 Saban Films
The film also grossly underutilized Allison Tolman

When you have an individual write, direct and make them the lead in a film, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the sense that you are watching an ego trip gone out of control.  Yes, many creators have been able to ride this line and make something that doesn’t feel this way but this film really feels like a vanity project as Killam writes, directs and makes himself the lead.  While this is an issue for much of the film, this can easily be overlooked once Arnold arrives in the story.  The man is so charismatic and funny in his brief appearance that it almost saves the entire movie.  However, the rest of the film only has fleeting moments of entertainment value as I saw a product that had predictable jokes and a story that really just feels like it is repeating itself and its sequences over-and-over again; each time with different ingredients but similar results.

                                                                                                                 Saban Films
Bobby Moynihan is pretty good at making lame things funny.

Finally, the thing that really felt absolutely superfluous for the film was the way the story was presented.  The aspect of hiring a documentary crew and presenting the story in a “mockumentary” way sorta felt pointless.  Occasionally the plot makes great use of this and it works for several jokes but too often it just felt unnecessary.  While it worked during fleeting moments and actually assisted in the setup early on in the feature, it ultimately felt like a wasted gimmick that is never truly capitalized on.  

                                                                                                                 Saban Films
Maybe the documentary-style approach was just for lazy writing shortcuts?

Honestly, the only saving grace of this film, and the element that almost had me give this one the middle-of-the-road 3 instead of a 2, is Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The big guy is a pop cultural icon and has had a big impact on movies in his career.  While he made his name as an action guy, he’s never poop-pooped the idea of branching out and he’s done it to varying degrees of success.  It’s very clear that he’s having a great time in his role as Gunther for this film as he projects fun and excitement.  He’s extremely funny and makes the short time he’s in the film very memorable and almost like a healing presence as he makes the final moments of the film entertaining and fun in ways that just wasn’t there beforehand—so, of course, that meant Taran “Me Me Me Look at Me” Killam had to shit on him during his promotional tour and talk about how he’s not bankable anymore and is available very cheaply.  I’ve never really had an opinion on the guy until recently and, I gotta be honest, combining his generic comedy he made and his subtle narcissism he showcased on the promotional tour, he doesn’t seem like a great guy.

                                                                                                                  Saban Films
Yes, his parts are great but there should have been WAY more of them.

Killing Gunther has its moments and ends pretty terrifically thanks to Arnold but it doesn’t change the fact that the movie is filled with way too much predictable humor and the story just never was that compelling.  Had there been more Arnold in this film, it might have been different but that might have gotten in the way of Killam’s ego. 

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