Whoa, a film starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta – what could go wrong?! Well, a lot apparently. For one, Travolta plays a Serbian veteran from the Bosnian war, complete with a goofy accent and all. Seriously. Why not just get someone who actually has the accent, not the dude best known for his dance moves? Eh, that isn’t even the biggest problem though, as Killing Season takes a decent concept, a killer cast, and some pretty brutal effects, but squanders them all. This script must have been damn near flawless on paper, because I haven’t a single clue how either of these A-List celebrities got involved.
Killing Season is nothing but a drawn out game of cat and mouse, as director Mark Steven Johnson brutalizes our characters with graphically disturbing scenes of violence, and writer Evan Daugherty strings the chase along tirelessly with one silly shift in power after the next. Completely ignoring the age differential and physical stature that should have had Travolta’s character Emil Kovac easily decimating De Niro’s older character Benjamin Ford (an American soldier in the Bosnian war), their military experience also will leave heads pounding. Kovac’s want for revenge and a confession repeatedly gets in the way of finishing the job he set out for, as Ford somehow keeps getting away, but it almost becomes laughable how many times the tides turn. For two ex-military macho men, the film became almost cartoonish because of their endless back and forth.
But if this were a cartoon, it’d have a TV-MA flashing in the top-left corner of the screen. May the squeamish be warned, because one scene in particular involving De Niro being shot in the leg with an arrow may be one of the most painfully hard to watch torture scenes ever depicted on camera. I’m not joking. Completely staying in the realm of reality, Johnson delivers visuals that are impressively flinch-worthy – but unfortunately they’re not enough to save viewers from the epically underwhelming story and pacing.
If you want my full take on Killing Season, be sure to check out my theatrical review! If not, here’s my summation in the form of a hook-line:
Playing out like a brutally graphic Tom and Jerry skit at times, Killing Season lacks the atmospheric tension necessary to keep us consistently engaged.
So let’s take a look at the Blu-Ray aspects of Killing Season and see if any slack can be picked up by special features or perfect quality presentations. Here’s what we’re working with:
- Killing Season Featurette
Yup, that’s it. No deleted scenes, alternate endings, gag reels, or special commentaries from anyone involved – just a quick featurette talking about the themes of war in Killing Season. Alright, so it’s something (I guess), but running at a brisk few minutes, this little nugget featuring John Travolta, Robert De Niro, and director Mark Steven Johnson is over before you get even get a snippet of something worthwhile, and we’re right back to the title screen. Not only that, but if you aren’t a fan of the cinematic thriller Johnson and crew put together, you’ll just end up chucking while hearing the parties involved talk about how intense and deep Killing Season is. Um, did we watch the same movie?
The only thing worth mentioning is that the Blu-Ray conversion looks and sounds decent enough, playing Travolta’s confusing accent so that we can at least understand what he’s mumbling about half the time. Oh, and don’t worry, seeing De Niro’s first torture scene will leave you just as squeamish while watching in the comfort of your own home, capturing every gory detail. Technically, everything is in sound enough shape to make the watch as easy as possible.
Sadly though, Killing Season is anything but easy to get through, wasting a casting stand-off that should have been entirely more epic. Am I the only one that thought the grudge match of Travolta versus De Niro was a bad idea from the start, setting a pretty decently toned dancing machine against a now aging film veteran? Situations become laughable because of the punishment each man takes, and never did I get a sense of the “dark humor’ or intense atmosphere director Mark Steven Johnson references in his featurette bit. This is one chase that plays out longer than any audience will appreciate, losing realism with every head wound, arrow stab, and citrus splash along the way.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.
Killing Season is too long, too over-bloated, and too cliche ridden to provide a thrilling cat and mouse game between two veteran actors who deserve much, much better.