'Kill List': Movie about hit men is a miss
"Kill List," an ultraviolent, not-so-thrilling British thriller about hit men, veers wildly in and out of its main character's head, creating a warped dream logic. Directed by Ben Wheatley and starring Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley, the film is playing at Seattle's SIFF Cinema at the Uptown.
Seattle Times movie critic
'Kill List,' with Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring, Emma Fryer. Directed by Ben Wheatley, from a screenplay by Wheatley and Amy Jump. 95 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains violence). SIFF Cinema at the Uptown.
An ultraviolent crime thriller that isn't very thrilling, British filmmaker Ben Wheatley's "Kill List" starts off as businesslike as its title. Jay (Neil Maskell) is a professional hit man who, when not murdering people, lives in the suburbs with his perpetually yelling wife Shel (MyAnna Buring) and young son, enjoying the Jacuzzi and awaiting his next job. His associate Gal (Michael Smiley) pops round for dinner one night with his mysterious girlfriend Fiona (Emma Fryer), and tells Jay that they have a new gig: a "kill list" of three, with a big payday at the end
And off we go, to the murders of a priest, a librarian and an MP, performed via methods both tidy (real professionals, apparently, put plastic sheeting over the furniture before a hit) and gory (you really don't want to know what Jay can do with a hammer). Things soon get murky, as the film veers wildly in and out of Jay's head. By the end, Wheatley's habit of cutting abruptly to a black screen (for no particular reason) grows tiresome, and the film disappears down a bloody rabbit hole of warped dream logic.
"Kill List" is better in its smaller moments, few and far between, that bring home the reality of being a regular fellow in a very non-regular profession.
"We should do this more often," Jay tells Gal, as they make their way across the MP's verdant acreage. "What, kill rich people?" says Gal. "No," is the answer, "get out in the fresh air."
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com