Kill List – Movie Review

You have to go along with this one. Give it a chance anyway and take in a good, creepy horror flick.

Killer for hire Jay (Neil Maskell: “It’s All Gone Pete Tong”) is having a tough time. It is a mid-life crisis for a hired gun. He is one of the best killers around but he is losing his grip and not at all sure he is cut out for the life of a murderer. Then he is approached with the deal of a lifetime, the chance to get back into the game, in spite of the mess he made of things in Kiev.

No, we are not told anything about Kiev. In fact, we are told very little about anything in this atmospheric horror thriller by crime film noir director Ben Wheatley (the man behind the award winning “Down Terrace”). Wheatley patterns Jay and his old assassin partner Gal (Michael Smiley: “The Other Boleyn Girl”) after the family members in “Down Terrace.”

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, they know something is happening but they don’t know what it is. By the end of this flick they will wish they had known, because Kiev was only the beginning of their worst nightmare. Double-crosses, fake personas and plot twists come and go like hairpin curves on a dark country road. Nobody would able to find his way and Jay and Gal are rapidly losing theirs.

After too many months of isolation, holed up in his extremely normal looking suburban bungalow, Jay is visited by Gal for a very civilized dinner for four. Everything is perfect with the two old chums, Gal’s incredibly sexy, model-like girlfriend Fiona (Emma Fryer) and Jay’s incredibly sexy Swedish wife Shel (MyAnna Buring).

The night starts out like something in London’s West End and ends up with Jay going into a flying rage, followed by Jay and Shel retiring to the garage to fondle Jay’s assault rifle. This is a good sign, because it means that Jay is ready to get back on that horse, again, Gal is ready to go, and we in the audience are finally going to see the blood and brain tissue we have been waiting for. There is something about the “ten mile stare” in Jay’s eyes that tells us this is going to be good.

The dinner / fight / gun fondle is followed by a meeting that is a little too streamlined and a little too mannered to really be with the most psychotic Oxford graduates ever to grace a London corporate board room. Ok, we don’t know the details but these guys have a lot of money and they do not mind paying a fair share of it to achieve a bullet in the brain pan for a few of their former associates. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

Only, with these gentlemen there are no second chances. If there is another Kiev, Jay and Gal will be scrubbing the bottom of the Thames with those Jermyn Street threads.

As the killing starts, the movie seems to be going down the road of a fairly normal horror/slasher film. A bit of porno creeps in and that makes things interesting. That creep really deserved it, hammer and all. The funny thing is that the victims seem to enjoy being killed. Oh, oh, looks like a set-up, and it is, sort of. But you will have to watch the moving to find out what kind of a set-up.

Like Captain Benjamin Willard in “Apocalypse Now” Jay finally got his mission and after it he would never want another. At the trains pulls into the final destination he finds himself at the end of a string of killings he will never forget.

Neil Maskell was nominated for the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor in this film and he deserves every bit of it. Even better, his supporting actor Michael Smiley was right on his wheel, winning the Indie award for Best Supporting Actor. The two develop a great chemistry on screen. They are at each other’s throats one minute and risking their lives for each other the next.

Unfortunately, neither one is prepared for what awaits at the end of their current kill list. MyAnna Buring was also nominated for the Indie award for Best Supporting Actress. Ben Wheatley was nominated for the British Independent Film Award for Best Director for his work on this film. He also shared the nomination for Best Screenplay with co-writer Amy Jump.

Very good crepuscular client played by Struan Rodger. A total gentleman even as the skin seems to be sloughing from his face. The elder members of the Addams Family had more color.

Good cinematography by Laurie Rose and music by Jim Williams, both reuniting with director Wheatley after the comparably nervous “Down Terrace.”

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Directed by: Ben Wheatley
Written by: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump

Starring: Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring and Harry Simpson

Release Date: January 13, 2012
MPAA: Not Rated
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Country: UK
Language: Englis
Color: Color