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I killed some time but I wanted more!
Kill List (DVD)
Member Name: Jojoborne
Kill List (DVD)
Advantages: Not many.
Disadvantages: You'll be disappointed if you were hoping for the brilliant movie that is promoted to cult status.
Never have my views on a movie been so mixed and aplenty. 'The Kill List' is a 2011 movie release by the director Ben Wheatley. It stars relatively unknown British actors who were encouraged to adlib a lot of their scenes.
This movie really does split opinion and the general movie goer or Hollywood fan will think it a crass pile of garbage. The more serious movie buff or horror fan will try to ham it up and tag it as a classic, just in case it really does reach cult status and they can travel around their friends telling them how right they were about it. True fans of independent film and alternative movies will have mixed opinions. It could well go down as a cult hit and it does have its moments in that it is well directed and well thought out, but on the other hand it is a mish-mash of genres and it is hard to fit it into any single category. The story is so ambiguous that it can't be taking itself seriously, surely? The acting, while intense, is also very wooden at times and adds to the whole dreariness of the storyline. The soundtrack is one of the most God-awful things I have ever heard and I could not warm to the actors; especially Neil Maskell who plays 'Jay' in the lead role. I'm sure Mr Maskell is a nice guy in real life and the fact that I couldn't stand him in the movie is probably testament to his acting skills as the viewer is not meant to like him, but I couldn't help feeling that he was going to don a football scarf at any moment and go looking for some rival fans to fight. He had that cheeky Cockney bloke vibe about him. Anyway, before I delve any deeper into the overall analysis, let's take a look at the plot.
Jay (Neil Maskell) has been living like royalty but tensions have built between him and his Swedish wife, Shel (Myanna Buring) because he thinks she has spent all their money or at least forty thousand over the last few months. It turns out that Jay is a hit man and while on an assignment in Kiev eight months previous with his best friend Gal (Michael Smiley), something bad happened. Jay has not taken on any new contracts for eight months and when Gal comes around with his new girlfriend for dinner one night, he tells Jay that they have a new job offer to kill three people for a substantial amount of money. Jay loses his temper in front of the guests and argues openly with his wife while Gal tends to the couples seven year old son, Sam.
They take on a job to kill a priest, a librarian and a politician or MP to be more specific. The first job is pretty simple but as Jay goes to pull the trigger, he asks the priest to turn round and the priest tanks him politely before Jay shoot him in the back of the head. The librarian is a sadist and a paedophile and he also thanks Jay for killing him. Jay is spiralling out of control and is side tracked after learning another pervert's name. It is a night of violence and brutal bloodshed.
The MP will turn out to be a much tougher proposition and Jay and Gal will become exposed to something sinister, something evil and something that neither of them could ever have expected.
I could potentially talk about my theory to this movie for quite a while but the problem with that is that I would have to give away, the plot, the ending and spoil it for those who want to watch it. So I will refrain from doing so and just give my opinions on the stuff about the movie that I can talk about. I have my own theory and it is pretty straight forward but a lot of people have apparently struggled with the plot. I can certainly understand why as it is, as I alluded to earlier, quite a mix-up of genres, which struggles to decide on what it actually wants to be. It initially starts out as an obviously loosely scripted relationship story that obviously has some story beyond it, which we will find out about. This then opens out into the world of the hit man and the crime genre.
After a few unsettling scenes of exploitation and gory juxtaposition, we are suddenly thrown into a movie akin to the old Hammer witchcraft movies, very similar to 'The Wicker Man' in feel, although it has a slightly different slant on story.
Neil Maskell plays the part of Jay well but I don't feel any connection with him at all and although I can see that Jay obviously has lots of issues mentally, I just don't believe in him enough. The arguments between Jay and Shel are very realistic and this is due to the fact that it hasn't been learnt from a script. You can tell the actors have given it some thought and then proceeded to tear lumps out of each other. It works because it is virtually real in that they can make it up as they go along. The movie suffers too because of this as it sometimes feels like it is going nowhere. I almost got the feeling that the director shouted cut at one stage and told everyone to hang fire while he went away and thought about what they should do next.
I was very close to switching this off after an hour out of sheer boredom but once the slight twist started at the end I felt I had to watch just to see the outcome. This is usually a sign that a movie is actually better then you first thought, but for me, in this case, I was just curious as to how much more the movie could change its central story without totally collapsing in on itself.
Some of the bloodier scenes in the movie are quite gruesome and Mr Maskell must have had to visit a very dark place inside him to warm up for the scenes. He punches a guy in a chair senseless and burns him with a cigarette before proceeding to smash his kneecaps in with a hammer. This isn't enough for Jay though so he smashes the guy's fingers with the hammer, which we see graphically and then repeatedly smashes his head in with the said tool. This scene is rather graphic and not one for the squeamish. It reminds me of the old 'B' movie efforts of the nineteen-eighties, although to give it some credit, the direction and acting performances do place it above that level of movie, but still leave it short of the classics in that genre.
Once you have thought about the movie afterwards it is quite easy to put together the plot when you piece things together. The only problem with that is that if you try and do that during the movie you end up tying yourself in knots. I feel however, that it is not really that difficult to understand but perhaps I just get it. Getting it is one thing, liking it is another story. I have to say that over all it is not a very likeable movie, but it is different, so I'll give it kudos for that. I wouldn't choose to watch it again and the characters left me feeling a little non-plussed and I couldn't really be bothered whether they died, lived or started eating grass and sprouting horns.
I mentioned earlier that the soundtrack was awful and to be fair to Jim Williams (I don't think he is any relation to John) he didn't really have a lot to work with. That said, it really didn't appeal to me at all. I have mentioned the vomit inducing soundtrack from the French movie 'Irreversible' in past reviews and I think this rivals it as one of the worst soundtracks in film.
Overall I wouldn't really recommend this movie to anyone but devout independent horror movie lovers. If you're a mainstream film fan then stay away altogether.
I don't want to dumb this movie down totally as I can see it garnering a cult following and being part of forums who take great pleasure in dissecting it. I also hate totally trashing a movie because no matter what I think or how badly it is perceived I always respect the fact that someone has worked really hard on it and to them it has been the focus of their passion for a year or more in many cases. The movie has been touted for numerous awards and was up for British movie of the year. I can see the reasoning behind this for the simple fact that the movie is different and the director and cast have a had a damn good go at creating something unique.
The standard region 2 DVD contains commentary with Director Ben Wheatley and Writer Amy Jump.
Commentary with Actors Neil Maskell, Myanna Buring and Michael Smiley .
The making Of Kill List .
Interview with Director Ben Wheatley.
Interview with Neil Maskell and Myanna Buring and Interviews with Claire Jones and Andrew Starke.
Summary: A hit man is given a kill list and it doesn't turn out as he could have possibly imagined.