Killing Season (2013)

Untitled-1Killing Season is a movie about two former soldiers coming together to reconcile past differences. But instead of doing it civilly over coffee, they choose to hunt each other down and inflict all sorts of nasty bodily damage on each other, from arrow wounds to the calves and cheeks, to tumbling a car right off the road and down a very rocky slope. The movie tries to be gruesome without actually being gruesome, but the gruesome parts are its best. Take them away and there is nothing left.

Robert De Niro and John Travolta play the retired soldiers — one’s an American colonel and the other’s a Serbian (Bosnian?) soldier with a very unconvincing accent. Their paths meet when the Travolta character, Emil, tracks the De Niro character, Ben, to his woody house up in the hills. At first, he seems like a friendly passer-by, offering to help restart Ben’s dead engine. Ben brings Emil back to his house for a little dinner and chit chat, out of gratitude no doubt, and they both down a few shots of Jagermeister (which, if you know its meaning in English, has more to do with the story than at first it seems). They reminisce and discuss their pasts as soldiers; everything seems fine and dandy.

But no. Emil is a psychopath with a vengeance, and we learn this when he fires an arrow right for Ben’s head the following morning while they’re both out on a hunt. What follows is a very lengthy and tedious series of chases that see both Ben and Emil exchanging the glove of power. At first Ben’s on the run, and then Emil’s tied to Ben’s dinner table, and then Ben’s shot at with a flare gun, and then Emil gets a bunch of old wooden planks dropped on his head, and then… Well you get the idea. Back and forth, back and forth. I hate you, you hate me. And it’s all supposed to mean something — Emil wants Ben to confess to his sins, so he tortures him till he does. There’s a painful scene in an abandoned church where Emil yells at God and then at Ben. “It’s just the three of us now. You, me, and Him. But He’s not here! He doesn’t listen!”.

De Niro and Travolta are big-name celebrities. They’ve both starred in great movies in the past. So I guess you could say they’ve reached that point in their careers where they don’t have to source out good roles anymore. They can take it easy; relax. Act for the love of acting, not for the money it provides. If you look at it that way, then you could possibly understand their reasons for wanting to be a part of Killing Season. But why are they really here? What did they see in the script that prompted them to say “Yes! I’ll take the job.”? I see nothing. And even after watching all ninety-one boring minutes of this movie, I still see nothing.

Killing Season is directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who is responsible for the commercial and critical flops, Daredevil and Ghost Rider. Neither are movies I’d want to see, and I suspect Killing Season will not be seen by anyone who values the power of movies. It isn’t well made at all, looking more like an above-average amateur movie than a movie made with the intention of drawing in big bucks. The editing is clumsy, the acting is disappointing (the accent even more disappointing), the story is bland and really very pointless, and the entire thing just has the look and feel of a B-movie that’s stumbled upon two big stars and decided to pull them along for the ride. I cannot fathom why this movie was even made, but it has been made, and now we’ll just have to live with it.

Best Moment | The arrow right through Emil’s cheeks and into the door.

Worst Moment | Everything else.

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