Dave’s 6-Word Review
Travolta’s Magnificent Beard. That is all
Have you ever sat back and thought, I wish they would make a movie about (fill in the plot)? Face it, everything that can be made…has been made…for the most part. That’s why I have never said “I wish they would make a movie where John Travolta and Robert De Niro torture each other in the woods” All the while Travolta tries to pull off a Serbian accent (because he plays a Serbian) with a magnificently fake beard. This all happens, of course, in Killing Season. If this plot sounds a bit out there, that’s because it is.
To expand on the story, Robert De Niro plays Benjamin Ford, an old veteran and recluse living deep in the woods. Back in the war, he was tasked to save some Bosnians, and among the midst, his team wipes out a few Serbians assassination style. One Serbian by the name of Emil Kovac (John Travolta) survives the war, and plans his revenge for the next eighteen years. Basically, he finally finds out where Ford was living this whole time, comes out to the woods for a visit, and ultimately hunts him down for the rest of the film.
This is your typical cat and mouse story with a few questionable choices. First and foremost is the elephant in the room. John Travolta. Good God, I cannot for the life of me understand the thought process into hiring John Travolta to play a Serbian, and try to have us believe it. There was a lot of obnoxious things about Travolta’s character. His god-awful accent, his unclear religious motivations, his beard. Excuse me, Mr. Travolta, something died on your chin. Okay okay…I can honestly say that under all the muck, I really see Travolta attempting to be serious for the role. Good for him. Good for him to have enough confidence to take on a Serbian role…but I’m sorry. Anyone watching this film can tell you Travolta was the wrong choice, in fact anyone else could have probably pulled it off better. So was he very menacing as the villain? Not really, I think he had some good dialogue here and there, and good action sequences, but not menacing.
How about De Niro? Where a lot of people would continue on with the bashing with De Niro, I actually liked his performance here. I honestly felt as if he fit into this role, and I really think he did a good job with it. He was pretty much MacGyver in the woods, constructing his own weapon from scratch…that’s awesome. I also really enjoy the focus on archery. Too many movies have gun fights and even sword fights, and I think the use of bows and arrows in film is more or less a lost art, and I think that helped the film tremendously.
I never had an uncontrollable urge to stop watching this film, and I really did want to see what they would do next. The direction is a tad sloppy, given how there seems to be a system of turns. For example, either Travolta or De Niro is winning. They take turns torturing each other. Instead of a brutal one-on-one fight, it was more of a kicking a man while down, then the man who was down gets up, and they switch places. That didn’t feel natural, and I wish it was done a little better in that regards.
I think the film had promise. It’s not like I haven’t seen a cat & mouse action thriller done in the woods before, because those are typically around the corner every week, but I liked the idea. I really liked De Niro’s performance, and the concept of Travolta’s character isn’t horrible. The religious overtones are a bit confusing and out-of-place, but at the same time, I understand they needed some kind of heart to put De Niro back on track.