Quantcast
Channel: Good Efficient Butchery
Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 1212

On Blu-ray/DVD: KILLERS ANONYMOUS (2019) and ASTRONAUT (2019)

0
0

KILLERS ANONYMOUS
(UK/US - 2019)


Gary Oldman really should have better things to do after his DARKEST HOUR Oscar triumph than dropping in for Bruce Willis duty on a straight-to-VOD Lionsgate/Grindstone clunker like KILLERS ANONYMOUS. So should Jessica Alba, who has even less to do here than Oldman, yet both are prominently displayed on the cut-and-paste poster art for this utterly dreadful dark comedy that squanders them and an interesting premise and crosses its fingers hoping that frantically piling on one nonsensical twist after another in the final act will gaslight you into thinking you're watching a more clever movie than you are (and just take a moment and look at that poster--it looks like the graphic design team had a 5:00 pm deadline and started working on it at 4:57). KILLERS ANONYMOUS opens with a prologue where Oldman's unnamed character (a mystery man known only as "The Man") is summoned from Los Angeles to London by underling Jade (Alba) to assess a botched assassination attempt on a popular US senator (Sam Hazeldine) who's a rising star with presidential aspirations. Jade is killed during the opening credits (and that's it for Alba, who couldn't have worked on this for more than a day) by Krystal (co-writer Elizabeth Morris), who heads straight to a meeting of Killers Anonymous, a support group for assassins dealing with job-related stress and burnout. It's a potentially amusing idea, but once everyone arrives--there's also group leader Jo (MyAnna Buring); player Leandro (Michael Socha); mild-mannered Calvin (Tim McInnerny); sensitive Ben (Elliot James Langridge); 'fookin''ell, mate!" LOCK STOCK knockoff rage case Markus (top-billed Tommy Flanagan); and new member Alice (EMPIRE's Rhyon Nicole Brown), a mysterious American who's hesitant to say much--the film stops dead in its tracks as director/co-writer Martin Owen (LET'S BE EVIL) gives each of the characters their own long monologue about who they are and what brought them to KA.





This goes on for about an hour, intermittently broken up by frequent bitching about quiet Alice by resident loudmouths Markus and Krystal, and while it might be a nice acting class exercise for the cast, it doesn't make for a very engaging film. Owen occasionally cuts away to Morgan (Isabelle Allen), a teenage runaway who's hiding in a crawlspace and eavesdropping on everything, and to a grimacing Oldman, whose enigmatic "The Man" is positioned on a nearby rooftop listening in on the bugged session while on the phone counseling a troubled killer (Suki Waterhouse) back in L.A. Not unlike a deadening mash-up of early Guy Ritchie, SMOKIN' ACES, and THE ICEMAN COMETH, the pointless and self-indulgent KILLERS ANONYMOUS is an absolute endurance test that doesn't have a single clever or even remotely amusing moment in its 96 excruciating minutes, which is pretty tough to accomplish considering the offbeat black comedy potential of a support group for assassins. Your first inclination would be to think that this must be some unreleasable dud that was shot four or five years ago and is only now being dusted off because of Oldman's DARKEST HOUR awards run. Nope...production began in July 2018, a good three months after the Oscars. Gary Oldman showed up on the set of KILLERS ANONYMOUS a newly-anointed Academy Award-winner. Did he lose a bet? Was his family being held hostage? Was he choking in a restaurant and Owen was there to successfully administer the Heimlich, making Oldman feel obligated to do him a solid in return? What is Gary Oldman doing in this movie?  What is Jessica Alba doing in this movie? Hell, I don't even know what Tommy Flanagan is doing in this movie. (R, 96 mins)


ASTRONAUT
(Canada - 2019)


It's hard to watch ASTRONAUT and not think that it might exist in some alternate post-CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND where an elderly Roy Neary is still watching the skies. That's because Richard Dreyfuss stars in this slight but sincere Canadian drama from debuting writer/director Shelagh McLeod. Dreyfuss is Angus Stewart, a 75-year-old retired civil engineer, astronomy enthusiast, and recent widower who's been forced to sell his home and move in with his daughter Molly (Krista Bridges), son-in-law Jim (Lyriq Bent), and adoring young grandson Barney (Richie Lawrence) after recurring TIAs and a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation and angina. Though Barney loves having him around and learning about space, his presence causes tension between between Molly and Jim, so he reluctantly agrees to move into a nursing home after Molly finds him in the midst of another mini-stroke. Though he befriends other residents--including a flamboyant Art Hindle and Graham Greene as a partially paralyzed stroke survivor--the irascible Angus quickly grows bored with the rigidity of the facility's director (Mimi Kuzyk), and at Barney's suggestion, enters himself in an online lottery created by Elon Musk-like multi-billionaire Marcus Brown (Colm Feore), where the winner gets a seat on Brown's ultimate dream project: the first commercial space flight. The age cut-off is 65, so Angus simply shaves off a decade and divulges nothing about his worsening health situation. And of course, he makes the cut.





A film aimed at senior audiences who might balk at all the R-rated talk and geriatric threesomes in Clint Eastwood's THE MULE, ASTRONAUT is corny, maudlin and shamelessly manipulative. But Dreyfuss admirably resists his innately hammy impulses and turns in a heartfelt performance as a man who knows the end is near and just wants one shot at his lifelong dream. There's certainly a strong argument to be made that everything that unfolds is just a fantasy of dying man, and an attempt at suspense in the third act where Angus' expertise in engineering helps avert a potential disaster for Brown is a little too hokey, but this is really all about Dreyfuss. He shows a genuine camaraderie with young Lawrence and his scenes with Bridges have a realism to them that will resonate with anyone who's lost a parent and knows the other doesn't have much time left. ASTRONAUT loses its way a little in the home stretch, but it's the kind of film that probably would've been a minor sleeper hit of the STRAIGHT STORY sort in the late '90s. And it gives Dreyfuss--last seen embarrassing himself by playing a deranged criminal mountain man like the love child of Walter Brennan and Strother Martin in the dismal Gina Carano actioner DAUGHTER OF THE WOLF--a worthy late-career dramatic lead. Call it MR. HOLLAND GOES TO SPACE. (Unrated, 97 mins)



Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 1212

Latest Images

Trending Articles





Latest Images