It's hard not to wonder if director Robert Luketic possesses some deep, dark secret about Katherine Heigl. How else could one explain Heigl's decision to reunite with the director who made her look so uncomfortably awful in the rom-com The Ugly Truth?
Killers is even worse.
In the film, Ashton Kutcher is Spencer Ames, some sort of superagent hitman extraordinaire (good guy, of course!) who encounters the recently dumped Jen Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl) vacationing in Nice with her parents (massively underused Catherine O'Hara and Tom Selleck), who are relentlessly harassing their beautiful young daughter for yet another broken relationship because she is "unadventurous," a point this film is surely going to prove to be incorrect.
Spencer and Jen make cutesie nice in the least cutesie nice way possible, Spencer attracted to the idea of a rather bland, suburban existence and Jen already living one.
Can't you just hear the violins playing already?
Three years later, the two are together with Spencer working a normal job for a building contractor, Jen doing something that must be rather impressive and suburban bliss firmly in place.
The bliss is broken, however, when Spencer's past comes back to haunt him and a $20 million bounty is placed on his head.
Oh, woe is me.
The betrayed bride is at first vengeful then, giggle, adventurous.
Did you really have any doubt?
It's difficult to decide just exactly who is to blame for the debacle called Killers, a film so bad that Lionsgate steadfastly refused to show it to critics prior to opening day. Killers is so bad that it's worse than Marmaduke, the weekend' other cinematic travesty.
After somehow turning The Ringer into a surprisingly entertaining and sweet film, Katherine Heigl seemed poised to become this generation's new romantic leading lady. A popular actress with reportedly discerning taste in film roles, Heigl radiated a sort of blue-collar Katherine Hepburn charm with her classic looks, feisty attitude and steadfast refusal to condescend the rom-com's lowest common denominator of T&A. Knocked Up pushed the boundaries, but worked and Heigl largely maintained her artistic integrity.
However, since Knocked Up Heigl has been drowning in a sea of rom-com mediocrity with titles such as 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth and now Killers, all films where she displays virtually no chemistry with her romantic partner and all films that chip away at the Heigl we'd come to known and love.
Where is Heigl and who's advising her? How can such a talented and discerning young actress continue to choose such cinematic trash? What in the script by Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin could possibly have enticed Heigl, or for that matter Kutcher, to see anything of value in this film? Did Katherine, perhaps, adopt a Luketic child or carry his love child or something? Why on earth would she trust a man who created the simply awful dreck called The Ugly Truth?
Truly, American wants to know. America loves Heigl, likely accounting for the fact that she has yet to have a film completely tank. Americans are, however, a rather finicky bunch and after awhile they will tire of these lazy, predictable and stunningly bland trips down rom-com mediocrity. Movies are too expensive and times are way too hard for Heigl's cinematic inadequacy to continue.
It simply must stop.
The same is true for Ashton Kutcher, though it's certainly arguable that he's seen as having far less potential for Hollywood greatness than Heigl. Kutcher is, when it comes down to it, a cultural curiosity more famous for his tweeting habits and romantic partner than his acting chops.
A fair appraisal? Perhaps not, but most certainly an accurate one.
Luketic has really created one successful comedy, the Reese Witherspoon vehicle Legally Blonde, a fact that could indicate he's able to produce comedy simply not romantic comedy. Luketic flicks such as Win a Date With Tad Hamilton and The Ugly Truth serve up the worst that Luketic has to offer, poorly paced and awkward romantic far uncomfortably devoid of personality.
Kutcher has a couple semi-pleasing moments in Killers, moments when his smarmy persona and glamour boy looks pay off with briefly rewarding results. The only truly decent performance here comes from Tom Selleck as Jen's over-protective father, a sort of "no holds barred" former pilot with a definite gruff charm about him despite being woefully underwritten.
Razzie nominations are assured for Kutcher, Heigl, Luketic, writers Griffin and DeRosa and for the coupling of Heigl/Kutcher. If they offered Razzies for original score, Rolfe Kent would be front and center among the nominees.
At its best, Killers was destined to be not much more than your average romantic comedy with two attractive leads and, one could have only hoped, a certain amount of killer charm. Unfortunately, everyone involved with Killers is off their game and Heigl ends up knocked out rather than knocked up.
Wonder if Heigl will pull a Bullock move and show up to pick the Razzie herself?
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic