While critics are savaging Killers worse than The Bounty Hunter (which I actually liked… a little), the public seems to be (at least mildly) enjoying it. In fact, the majority of my fellow moviegoers on opening night had a ball.
There are indeed plenty of funny bits, but there are also problems– and the biggest ones come in the form of the two leads: Ashton Kutcher is badly miscast, and Katherine Heigl’s character is badly written… and together they have all the chemistry of estranged siblings.
Kutcher plays Spencer, an undercover operative sent to exotic locales to kill people (mostly bad people, though, as he mentions repeatedly). While ‘James Bond’ is the image that’s supposed to be dancing in our heads, Kutcher is as about as suave as Brendan Fraser in Furry Vengeance; it’s almost impossible to see anything but the goofball from Punk’d or all the cutesy Nikon commercials. Sure, Kutcher’s got a perfectly toned body (and his wry smile is enough to charm the ladies), but seeing him as a gun-toting international man of mystery takes a lot of effort.
And then there’s Heigl’s Jen (“…or Jennifer… or Jen… or sometimes Jenny. Not, not Jenny. Just Jen. I’m Jen,” as she so eloquently puts it). As the movie opens, she’s a recent dump-ee on vacation in France with her parents (the scene-stealing Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara). There, she meets-cute with Spencer in a hotel elevator, and they go out on a few dates. Spencer is still harboring his dark secret, but just as he decides to quit his hitman ways and come clean, she falls fast asleep and misses his confession.
Three years later, Jen and Spencer are married and living in the suburbs when his old boss tries to hire him back for one more kill. Of course, Jen then discovers Spencer’s past, and it’s here that her character starts to spiral out of control. Apparently screenwriter Bob DeRosa couldn’t decide what kind of person Jen is, and her personality ends up having more colors than a chameleon walking through Willy Wonka’s factory.
She goes from smoothly sticking a glock into the waistband of her skirt, to holding the gun like it’s a dead rat she found in the basement (see poster, above), to ramming her SUV into a baddie to save Spencer’s life. She bounces back and forth between ditzy, smart, overprotected, independent, high-maintenance, and laid-back. About halfway through I found myself feeling sorry for Heigl; I’m not sure how she made it through the whole shoot without her head exploding.
Director Robert Luketic (The Ugly Truth, Monster-in-Law), does manage to keep things moving, and he actually puts together some better-than-average fight scenes, a couple good car chases, and plenty of funny bits involving the couple’s suburban neighbors. In the end, Killers comes off as a dumbed-down version of True Lies or Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Yes, the screenplay’s more than a little messy (and silly), but if you can just sit back and accept Killers for the satire it’s trying to be, you’ll probably enjoy it. Just don’t think too much… or your head might explode.