The Killer (1989) (R)

















As per usual of the typical "shoot-em-up" style of movie there are impossibilities that line up nicely one after the other. The massive carnage wipes away from one shot to the next, letting wave after wave of bad guys spill into rooms without tripping over the tens of bodies strewn about. The protagonist—ergo, 'the Killer'—isn't that bad, in fact he has a conscience and he only kills the 'bad people'. Lastly, the police figure has enough screws loose that he sympathizes with the killer and soon we see that they are the same person.
This is what you're going to get if you watch John Woo's action-meets-sentimental-whirl-and-hurl film "The Killer". Woo nicely takes several genres and sticks them in a blender and turns it on. What the result is, is a sometimes chunky, viscous film that is quite easy to digest at some moments...others feel like Woo accidentally dropped the spoon in the blender.
The movie begins with an acknowledgement...our main character is a mercenary. He is given the task of taking out a "bad" man in exchange for money. He does so at a night club where a woman sings a song that puts him under a spell. She must have noticed all the bullets ricocheting from the back room and does what any sensible woman would do—she goes and investigates. This little faux pas earns her borderline blindness and a damaged murderer with a guilty conscience who hangs around like a little puppy.
We are introduced to a cop, a man who prizes justice about legality. He doesn't mind a few dead bodies here and there...because if the sucker got what he deserved—all's well that ends well.
These two men's lives collide when the killer knocks off a politician that the officer is guarding during a public event. What ensues is a motorboat chase and a massive shootout on a beach. The officer gets the first glimpses inside the ooey-gooey heart of our exploding-head-bullet-shooting psychopath—while on the beach a little girl gets shot (of course not by 'the killer' but by one of the 'bad' men) and the killer just has to save her or else his conscience will eat away at him.
So he takes said injured girl to the hospital, being tailed by the cops all this time, and gets her the lifesaving medical attention she needs—cue piano music.
After he (duh) escapes from the cops, the officer makes the comment: "There's something heroic about him. He doesn't look like a killer". Ba-dum-dum.....important part.
The killer is a man who knows where everyone will be five seconds before they know. He can turn corners, shoot through walls, be incredibly perceptive, and still manage to be pulled in opposite directions as far as morality is concerned.
The killer is the man that Alex Jones fantasizes about.
Yet, with all its complicated layers of understanding the killer and the officer (who keep crossing paths and turning into each other), "The Killer" is a remarkably safe movie. It doesn't take the risk of making the killer a bad guy, who kills for money...no, that would be too risky to ask us to empathize with him. Instead, we get a very, very emotional man who occasionally shoots a gun.
Feeling indebted to the woman who lost her sight in the first scene, the killer returns and tries to make everything nice-nice with the girl. This girl is despicable and is only used as a plot device. She is a flat character who would look better off screen. She cries and gets shaken and Woo indulges in some heavy stereotypes.
But the movie is not remembered for its sentimentality and its subtle statements, urging the viewer to enjoy the notion that they too could kill someone if they needed to—instead, it's the action.
The bullets rain down from the heavens in this one, the cars explode like angry Rob Ford, and no body stops to question all the violence.
I'm not saying that these guys aren't incredibly amazing and well-trained...but I have a problem believing that they could evade the amount of men that they do and survive the amount of shrapnel that sinks beneath their skin.
For me, "The Killer" is entertaining but too full of holes.






Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4

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