Killerman is a movie about tough people working in a tough world, where the only way to get ahead is to be tougher than everyone else. Telling this kind of story is trickier than it may seem. Having graphic violence and macho dialogue isn't enough; there's got to be a tight story and well-developed characters we want to follow, even if they aren't technically “good guys.” Killerman is sorely lacking those qualities. It mistakenly believes that two hours of watching tough people be tough is sufficient for entertainment. Quite the opposite.
Liam Hemsworth plays Moe Diamond, a money launderer operating in New York City. Through a long – and, quite frankly, laborious – series of events, he ends up with amnesia, millions of dollars in stolen cash, and a massive load of drugs. A gang of corrupt cops are looking for him. Moe and his partner Skunk (Lords of Chaos star Emory Cohen) have to find a way to stay alive. Of course, the amnesia factor makes it complicated.
Killerman is one of those movies where the characters are perpetually in a crisis state, so they yell rather than converse. If you removed all the dialogue that is shouted, the film would probably be an hour shorter. An intrusive pounding, electronic-based musical score further adds to the picture's headache-inducing nature. It's there continually, as if reminding you that you're supposed to be on the edge of your seat.
Amnesia has fueled a lot of films over the years. At its best, the condition can allow for great human drama. As the afflicted person recalls things, we learn more about them. How they respond to what they remember can be revealing, too. Killerman doesn't bother trying that. Moe is the same at the end as he is at the beginning, which is to say, an intense dude who scowls a lot and doesn't display much personality. The story's idea of depth is to toss in an added bit of information about him in the last ten minutes. And by “added bit of information,” I mean an age-old cliché Killerman decides to trot out.
Writer/director Malik Bader doesn't demonstrate an ability to develop suspense. Violence abounds, and the characters wave guns at or threaten one another with regularity, all to very minimal effect. The plot, meanwhile, gets so convoluted that keeping track of who all the minor characters are and what part they play in the whole scenario becomes frustrating. Killerman lacks the structure required to draw us in. Instead, it offers little more than a non-stop parade of machismo. Even worse, of the three women who (barely) figure into the story, two are sex objects and the third is a damsel in distress.
Hemsworth and Cohen are capable actors. They are just forced to enact the same repetitive beats for 112 minutes. Killerman wants to be a hard-edged crime drama. Aside from some nicely gritty cinematography, it brings nothing of value to the table.
out of four
Killerman is rated R for violence, pervasive language, drug material and some sexuality. The running time is 1 hour and 52 minutes.