Review: Killers

(Psst! Find the killers.)

“What do we do now?”  “Maybe some couple’s counseling?”

Looking like an Asylum knock-off of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Killers is perhaps one of the blandest and most generic films I’ve seen in a long time.  This is no surprise as director Robert Luketic specializes in pap;  just check out his prior films:  The Ugly Truth, 21, Monster-In-Law and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton.  Only Legally Blonde had some zip to it, and that was primarily due to lead actress Reese Witherspoon’s all-out performance.  One can only hope that Luketic’s first feature, the promisingly titled Titsiana Booberini, was a real winner.

It certainly doesn’t help that the new film’s two “stars”, Ashton Kutcher (who also serves as a producer) and Katherine Heigl, are the dramatic equivalent of attractive doorstops.  They have zero chemistry,  and the paper-thin plot doesn’t give them much to do except smile and run and fly through panes of glass.  A promising supporting cast is under- or mis-used, and the predictable-from-the-start twist just shrugs its shoulders and ends the film.

Spencer (Kutcher) is a slick professional hitman, in Nice on a mission.  Jen (Heigl) is there as well, visiting with her overbearing parents (more on them in a moment) following an ugly and unexpected break-up with her ex.  They meet in an elevator, he on his way to blow up a target, she nervously attracted to the shirtless pretty-boy.  Here we have the first in a string of unbelievable situations:  Kutcher doesn’t look like a seasoned killing machine so much as a guy who just walked out of a Hollywood gym after a rough set of Pilates.

Jen’s parents are uneasy stereotypes:  her mom (Catherine O’Hara) is a “funny drunk” who can be found in every scene guzzling down massive tankards of booze and wine.  Jen’s father (Tom Selleck) fares only slightly better, as a domineering my-way-or-the-highway type.  He’s sweetly amusing at first, but the longer Selleck is on screen, the more grating his character becomes.

Spencer and Jen share some time in France that leads to his decision that he doesn’t like his work.  So he quits, the testy agency contact (Martin Mull) reminding him that nobody ever just quits.  And we cut to three years later, where the couple are married, living a cartoonishly perfect suburban life.  They celebrate Spencer’s birthday one evening, and the following morning one of his buddies tries to  kill him with kitchen knives.  The action, based on a $20-million-dollar contract on Spencer’s life, begins and doesn’t really ease up until the wheezing finale.

But by “action” what Killers has to offer is a lot of pointless and ill-choreographed chases and firefights, mostly bloodless killings and – as far as Spencer and Jen’s marriage goes – one of the most sex-and-sensuality-free relationships on film.  For such a curvaceous woman, Heigl has an utter lack of sex appeal;  here, as in Knocked Up, she seems to have a contractual obligation to appear spinsterish.

And when the killers start to come out of the woodwork to win that bounty, the shakiness of Bob DeRosa’s screenplay becomes apparent.  Without spilling the beans, let’s just say a lot of planning had to go into their suburb to accommodate all the mayhem that ensues.  And as the film starts to wind down, you realize that for all the murders, chases, car thefts, explosions and fights that have taken place, not a single law enforcement member has appeared anywhere in the film.  Perhaps there’s something to be said for gated communities.

Killers is a polished, smiling simpleton of a film.  Meant to be clever, romantic and action-packed, it ends up an embarrassment in a Summer of less-than-stellar films.