Killing Season

Let’s see, Killing Season opened in a limited release in the USA on July 12th – which is about 40 days ago. The turnstiles were mostly unused, and I’d hate to calculate the amount of theatrical popcorn that went to waste.

Despite starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta, this film took in an embarrassing and paltry $28 thousand as its opening weekend gross.

So it is no surprise that it is already out on DVD.

Here’s your story, De Niro and Travolta are both veterans of the Bosnian conflict in the mid 90’s. De Niro was part of a platoon of American soldiers who freed some POWs, then executed some of the enemy. Only De Niro’s character doesn’t fire into the back of Travolta’s head, he just shoots him in the upper back and leaves him to die.

18 years later, Travolta is back to get his payback. As the tagline states: Revenge has no rules. Let’s call it a cross between The Deer Hunter and Sleuth, and that’s doing a disservice to both of those films by including them as comparisons.

As the poster says, the purest form of war is one on one. What we get is a series of cat and mouse traps and reversals, and MacGuyver-esque types of ad hoc weaponry. In the original Rambo, with Stallone as Rambo, he escaped into the woods and took on every one who came after him. This time it is just De Niro and Travolta who are first out hunting elk, then each other.

The reality is that this film does not have it facts or history straight, doesn’t employ actors young enough to do what is required of them in an action film, and lacks suspense, thrills, or excitement.

Beyond that, the ending is a sensationally dissatisfying.

Filmed in the wilds of Stone Mountain, Georgia, I can’t find a reason to give this film any kind of upbeat review. It is far from the worst film ever made, but it looks like De Niro wanted a paycheck and had time to kill between other projects.

As for Travolta, he has to work with an accent that seems to only cloud what lines he has to say. But neither character has anything to say that is remotely interesting much less historically accurate.

Sure, war is hell – De Niro’s Colonel Ford bears the emotional scarring which has caused him to distance himself from his family. Travolta’s Kovac has the physical scars. Both are bitter and taciturn. But we never get too deeply inside either of these men.

They eagerly switch back and forth from the tortured to the torturer. Their warfare is harrowing and bloody but not deadly. I think the film, which runs 91 minutes, was stretched out to even last that long.

The film was directed by Mark Steven Johnson who long ago wrote Grumpy Old Men, and Grumpier Old Men, which I believe are his career highlights. This film was written by Evan Daugherty who also penned Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012. This film doesn’t come near any of either the director’s nor the writer’s best previous efforts.

I’ll rate this as a two point zero out of five, and I’ll not recommend it. In a few months, you’ll probably find it in the remainder bins at Walmart or Target selling for a few bucks.

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