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Killers




Killers (PG-13)


07/15/10



Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher are a married couple bickering about trust and truthfulness while spies shoot at them in Killers, a dull thud of an action romantic comedy.

Jen (Heigl) is a successful, pretty woman who has just been dumped by her boyfriend and is on vacation in sexy Nice, France, with her overprotective dad (Tom Selleck) and her boozy mom (Catherine O’Hara). She bumps into the shirtless and muscle-y Spencer (Kutcher) in the hotel elevator and soon finds herself enjoying whirlwind romance, international-style.

Actually, international-spy-style, because Spencer is a professional killer for the U.S. government. He doesn’t like the James Bond lifestyle, though, and decides to give it up when he meets sweet, innocent, genuine Jen.

A few years later and our allegedly charming young couple are married and happily living in the suburbs. But then Spencer gets a note from his former boss, who wants to drag him back into the spy workforce. Spencer wants no part of it but soon he’s being chased by a number of hitmen — many of whom he thought were coworkers or friends. When Jen ducks out of a business trip, she is greeted at home by an armed-to-the-teeth and fighting-to-the-death Spencer and the realization that her life as she’s known it has been a lie.

Because nothing adds wacky to a spy-vs.-spy story like couples-counseling-style discussions about trust.

I’ve spent the last few years thinking “if only Katherine Heigl could get better material.” I’m not sure what it was — probably her role in Knocked Up — but something had me convinced that here was a young actress poised to do great comedic things if only she could be given better stuff to work with. She could be smart and funny and a bit awkward everygirl while still being glam and modelesque.

I think I take it back. It’s not them, the series of crummy, embarrassing romantic comedies; it’s her. She’s lousy.

I’m sure it’s not her fault, per se. She’s pretty and people seem to have liked her in Grey’s Anatomy. She was actually one of the more talented members of the cast of Roswell (that’s right, Heigl is a The WB graduate). But she’s been working her sour face pout and her hysterical (not in the funny way) shrieks for many a comedy now and it just isn’t clicking. I’m not sure it even worked in Knocked Up — perhaps I liked her so much only because of the contrast she brought to the pothead-dude culture that otherwise dominated that movie.

She has zero chemistry with Ashton Kutcher and zero likeability on her own. I am willing to declare that comedy just isn’t Heigl’s thing and that includes “romantic comedy,” that particularly cursed subgenre of comedy that, like some ocean-destroying trawler, scrapes through the ranks of female actors and ensnares them. Only a few Tina Feys and Amy Poehlers manage to escape. Everyone else is mashed into a pulpy, personality-killing Rom-Com nugget, only to be discarded when they reach the elderly age of 35, no longer capable of playing a ditzy 20something.

In some other context, another TV show possibly, the things that don’t work with Heigl in movies might turn into prickly quirky character traits that make her the baddest detective in the precinct or the sassiest lawyer in the D.A.’s office. Or maybe not. But she’s gotta stop showing up, all stutters and airheadedness, in movies like this because they are not doing her any favors.

Meanwhile, after years of not getting Ashton Kutcher, I was pleasantly surprised by the very light work he does here. He is all-around much more appealing as an adult here than he was as a dude who lost his car. He is more fun to look at and more fun to listen to. He doesn’t quite get around to having good son-in-law/father-in-law chemistry with Tom Selleck until the end of the movie, but their scenes together are actually kind of fun.

And then there’s Catherine O’Hara, who is more fun in her collective maybe seven minutes as a perpetually buzzed lady of leisure than Heigl and Kutcher are in the entire movie.

A few moments of not-torture do not save the day, however. Even judged by the very low bar of the multiplex’s current offerings, Killers is bland, slow, boring death. D

Rated PG-13 for violent action, sexual material and language. Directed by Robert Luketic and written by Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin, Killers is an hour and 40 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Lionsgate.






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