Killers review ?½

Someone needs to warn Katherine Heigl that she may be in very real danger of being typecast as an uptight weirdo who needs to pull the stick out of her ass. The TV producer she played in The Ugly Truth was part bunny boiler and part Bridget Jones, but Killers’ Jen Kornfeldt (newly-dumped, at the start of the film) is worse. Oh, so much worse.

Put it this way: she calls and sees her parents all the time. When about to head off on a business trip, she says: “I’ll call you when I land.” Not to husband Spencer (Kutcher), but to her parents. (If you think this is perfectly normal behavior for a grown woman, never mind one who’s married, please seek therapy.) Then there’s her sickly penchant for doing things the way her parents do them. And if you can stay awake throughout Killers, you’ll even see her roll her eyes at daddy (Selleck).

Jen is proper nails-scraping-down-your-soul annoying and most women will want to kick her. We’ve seen Heigl do ditzy and dippy before, but she usually manages to be adorable at the same time. Here’s hoping that if Robert Luketic keeps casting Heigl, and she keeps inexplicably agreeing, he’ll let her play a character who’s not a complete social cripple. That and give her a decent movie to appear in. Because this odd attempt to somehow mash up an action thriller and a rom-com is far from successful.

Ashton doesn’t exactly save the show either. He looks nice, but pairing him with Heigl has much the same effect as two cuddly toys sitting together. They’re cute, but it’s hardly a recipe for sexual tension. So we see squirm-inducing fumbles and kisses cringingly devoid of passion, and sometimes it looks like they are actively trying to avoid physical contact. In one scene where Ashton briefly climbs on top of Heigl, you could swear she’s actually turning her head away from him. And this from a film supposedly built on the premise that the two of them are in lurve. Sure, not the kind of sizzling, screen-melting lust you see in, say, Mr and Mrs Smith, but it’s hardly unreasonable to expect a vague hint of chemistry.

And while the premise is daft, but acceptable enough for the daft-but-acceptable genre it’s trying to be part of (after all, nobody said this was going to be James Bond), Killers also falls down by failing to follow its own logic. Boy meets girl (while she’s on holiday with her parents, no less). Okay. We can accept that they fall for each other, shack up and then, oops, she discovers he’s a former hitman with a $20m bounty on his head. That sort of thing happens in the movies. It’s fine. We can live with their lack of personalities too, just about.

But are we seriously expected to believe that, with any number of unknown people trying to kill him and his wife, Spencer would risk going back to his house, given these people know where he lives? And that, once there, he’d actually go to a different room from his wife, leaving her to wander alone despite being so thick that she shouts “Spencer, is that you?” when she hears someone coming? When there are assassins trying to kill her and her husband, and the assassins know where their house is, and they’re standing in it? Spencer doesn’t even seem to bother looking behind him. Grosse Point Blank this ain’t.

It’s true that Killers has its funny moments, but it reaches for too many cheap laughs. For example, Catherine O’Hara is quite literally wasted as Jen’s permanently sloshed mother. And while it’s basically just dumb fun, it’s a hell of a lot more dumb than fun.

Killers at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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