Jun 23, 2014

Review: Killing Season (2013)

It's not only Benjamin Ford, played by Robert De Niro who has a limp. Killing Season quite literally limped into theaters, only playing in 12 and brought in a grand $39,881. KS might as well have just gone direct-to-video, but with two one-time big-time actors, what's to be done? Killing Season is very much De Niro and Travolta's vehicle, but Millennium Entertainment clearly had no faith in the film. They quietly released it to a few unsuspecting poor souls to save a bit of face and pushed it on the Blu-ray/DVD market. 

Mark Steven Johnson does not have a very great record as a director. Simon Birch was no more than OK to me and When in Rome seems like any other cheap rom-com. I haven't seen it yet, but that's my assumption. The two red marks that he has on his filmography though are Daredevil and Ghost Rider. Daredevil is just slightly better if it's in the Director's Cut version, but these are two perfect examples of how not to make a superhero movie. Can we really trust Johnson to make a worthwhile post-war action/drama piece?


Genre: action, drama, thriller
Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson
Produced by: Paul Breuls, Ed Cathell III, Anthony Rhulen, etc.
Written by: Evan Daugherty
Music by: Christopher Young
Running time: 91 minutes
Production company: Millennium Films, Corsan, Nu Image Films, etc.
Distributed by: Nu Image, Millennium Films, VVS Films, etc.
Country: United States, Belgium
Language: English, Serbian
Budget: N/A
Box office: $39,881 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Robert De Niro, John Travolta, Milo Ventimiglia, Elizabeth Olin



Retired Colonel Benjamin Ford is a recluse who lives in a cabin in the woods. He fought during the Bosnian war as a NATO operative and is haunted by his past. An old enemy by the name of Emil Kovac (John Travolta) who was part of the Scorpions, responsible for some pretty awful atrocities during the war, is alive and out for revenge. He gets a hold of some old, secret NATO files and makes the trip into the Appalachian Mountains where Ford spends his days. What happens next I wonder?


Killing Season is part action movie, so I'll start there. The flashbacks to the Bosnian War are horrifyingly done complete with easy-way-out shaky cam and a dumb filter which is meant to convey being in the past. When people get shot, CGI is quite obvious and it ruins the effect. Hand-to-hand combat finds the camera in too close and is most likely an attempt to hide any fight choreography deficiencies. Really there's no reason to be excited or tense during any of these scenes at all. Simply put, Killing Season is not very well crafted when it comes to action.

The film attempts to explore the pain and suffering of both men following the Bosnian war and how they try to deal with it. Ford tries to distance himself from it while Emil never stops thinking about it. Emil's main goal is to hear what Benjamin Ford has to say for himself about his actions by torture if need be and then to kill him. The story just devolves into each character having the upper hand, torturing the other and then switching roles. It's more comical than deep and neither actor is capable of carrying this movie to be better than it really is.

I kind of feel bad for John Travolta because I really do believe that he's trying here. He puts on an awful Serbian accent that kills any believability and he's forced to don this ridiculous looking beard from hell. Robert De Niro on the other hand gives the same asleep at the wheel performance he's now known for. One thing I want to say is that it's obvious Robert De Niro is in pretty good shape. I'd even argue that he's in better shape than John Travolta who's ten years his junior.

Killing Season makes light of what happened during the Bosnian War. Besides two past their prime leads to plaster the DVD covers, it doesn't offer anything worthwhile in terms of the impact of the war or the psychological workings of its combatants. Instead it just delivers a bit of torture porn and an excruciatingly godawful on the ears in the form of Travolta's Serbian accent.



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