Killerman, written and directed by Malik Bader, is a gritty new crime-thriller like pretty much any other one you have seen before. Lacking in both originality and substance, this will likely be one of the least memorable thrillers to come out this year despite its talented cast.
The film follows a money launderer who loses his memory and must try to regain it before the crooked cops that are on his trail find and kill him. Bader so obviously has an admiration for the crime movies of yesteryear, but his film largely lacks the heart and soul that made those more successful classics work. What we ultimately get is a bland and meaningless rip-off of tropes that came before.
One of the biggest issues with this movie is that it is terribly paced. The runtime clocks in at nearly two hours, which isn’t unusual for the genre, but so much of the film’s time, particularly in the first two acts, is spent on fluff. Only in the final act does the movie get remotely exciting, but it is nowhere near entertaining enough to sit through the first hour and twenty minutes of boredom to get to it.
The film also lacks interesting action. In gritty movies like this, the action is typically rough and minimally-choreographed in a purposeful way. Killerman, however, is almost entirely devoid of memorable action. Apart from one brutal interrogation sequence in the middle of the film, there aren’t any scenes that are notably gnarly, and as such, the movie doesn’t have that integral quality of intensity.
Additionally, the character development in the film is lacking. Movies about people with amnesia are usually most successful when they establish the character’s personality before they lose their memory. Even though we get to spend time with the protagonist before the accident, he isn’t made to be compelling in that time, and as such, it becomes extremely difficult to connect with him when he enters his state of unknowing.
That said, despite the fact that the character isn’t particularly well-written, Liam Hemsworth does a solid job in his role. To this point, a majority of his success has been in being eye candy, roles with little substance and even fewer lines. This character has just enough there that you can tell Hemsworth has some serious talent, but not enough that he can really use it. The quality of the film is definitely holding Hemsworth back, so hopefully he will get some more complex work in the future.
The visual style of the movie is also somewhat notable. Although Bader owes his visual style to the greats of the genre in which the film falls, he does a better job of paying homage to the classics visually than narratively. The gritty look and feel of the movie are effective at immersing you in the criminal underground of New York City, only for the boring script to draw you back out of the world.
If it were twenty minutes shorter and had a better twist, Killerman could have been a fun thriller. As is, it is a narratively deficient film that fails to create enough suspense or tension to even keep the interest of the audience.
Killerman hits theaters on August 30.