Review: KILLING SEASON (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Review: KILLING SEASON (2013)

Now, old man... How would you like me to cook you? Fried? Stew? Or maybe grill?
KILLING SEASON is disappointingly preachy and silly violent drama, while Robert De Niro and John Travolta are particularly wasted in their roles.

At the first glance, the idea of putting two veteran actors of Robert De Niro and John Travolta playing two ex-soldiers squaring off against each other in a deadly cat-and-mouse game of survival sounds intriguing enough to check out for. After all, KILLING SEASON features the first onscreen pair-ups between Robert De Niro and John Travolta, so it must be something special. Unfortunately, thanks to the incapable hands of director Mark Steven Johnson (DAREDEVIL, GHOST RIDER), KILLING SEASON ends up nothing more than a laughably bad violent drama which is hard to take it seriously.


KILLING SEASON begins with a brief prologue which takes place in Bosnia during Bosnian War in the 1990s. We learn that the NATO forces has captured Serbian war criminals and executed them one by one. One of the executioners are Col. Benjamin Ford (Robert De Niro), who shoots Emil Kovac (John Travolta) in the back and left for dead. Cut to the present day, Ford is already retired and now living like a hermit at a cabin retreat somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, hoping to get away all the painful memories of the Bosnian War he has fought in as well as his failed marriage. Enter Kovac, who disguised as an European tourist, manages to locate Ford's whereabouts and gets the opportunity to befriend him after he helps Ford fixed his broken Land Rover. As a token of gratitude, Ford invites him over at his place for dinner while Kovac shares a bottle of Jaegermeister with him. They chat a lot and later revealed that both of them shared a passion for archery. Kovac wants him to tag along for a hunting trip together. At first, Ford hesitates but subsequently joins him anyway the next morning. But what would be a mere hunting trip turns out to be a deadly cat-and-mouse game when Kovac starts attacking Ford and reveals his true identity. Apparently Kovac doesn't want to kill him right away, but rather spending his time to torture him while demanding him to confess his role in the war. 

The movie begins fairly well to establish a setup between Robert De Niro and John Travolta when they first met and subsequently becomes friendly acquaintance. When the truth reveals and the chase begins, the first few hunting games against each other with a bow and arrow are both exciting and intense to watch for.

Some of the torturing moments -- Kovac forces Ford to thread a steel rod through an arrow wound in his calf and subsequently hangs him upside down; Ford shoots an arrow through Kovac's cheeks; and the waterboarding scene where Ford makes Kovac drink salt-infused lemon juice that burns his wounded cheek -- are quite noteworthy.

Evan Daugherty's script is actually ambitious, especially the way he brings up thorny issues such as genocide, war crime and moral reckoning. But director Mark Steven Johnson fails miserably to translate his would-be intriguing script into a thought-provoking violent drama. Instead he seems to be only content for various torturing scenes that grows sillier and even gets preachy when Kovac keeps forcing Ford to confess his role in the war over and over again to the point of laughable absurdity. It doesn't help either that the two veteran actors are reduced to underwritten roles here. De Niro's performance is forgettable, while Travolta simply looks ridiculous with facial hair and even looks goofy faking an unbearable Serbian accent. Adding further insult to this movie is its repetitive action scenes and particularly a cop-out ending that is simply unbelievable.

Alright, just keep wiggling your ass over there. You really underestimate my shooting skill.

Looking at the title of KILLING SEASON, this movie is terribly misguided effort that also squanders the chance to make best use of talents between De Niro and Travolta. One of the worst movies of the year.

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