Two NYC money launderers make a quick drug deal. Things go wrong, as dirty cops are involved. One of the friends gets amnesia during their escape with the drugs and money.Two NYC money launderers make a quick drug deal. Things go wrong, as dirty cops are involved. One of the friends gets amnesia during their escape with the drugs and money.Two NYC money launderers make a quick drug deal. Things go wrong, as dirty cops are involved. One of the friends gets amnesia during their escape with the drugs and money.
The Plot: Somewhere in between the Bourne Identity and Ronin lies this movie. While never living up to the standard of Bourne, Killerman does hold its own and make good use of a tiring plot device. Moe (Hemsworth) and Skunk (Cohen) are money launderers working for Skunk's uncle Perico (Buric) who wants them to make $20 million in drops in 10 days. Perico delays their start and Skunk decides to take the initiative and deal with the money they have, setting up a drug deal with Fedex (Sharma) which goes sideways when corrupt cops Leon (Shreli) and Martinez (Bader) show up. During their escape, Moe and Skunk get into a crash and Moe loses his memory. They try to piece Moe's memory back together before they leave by going back to old apartments, acquaintances, and Moe's girlfriend Lola (Guerrero), but things don't fit back like they're supposed to and revelations ensue while they evade their pursuers.
The Characters: Bader tries to take good care in nurturing the development of the two leads and only partly succeeds. While Moe and Skunk are interesting, a feeling of repetition never quite escapes the frame. Moe was/is a money launderer and a jeweler who was trying to make moves to get into the higher end of the lowly life. Mostly calm and to-the-point, meeting Skunk and Lola put him where he wanted to be and gave him a reason to care who he associates with. Skunk is a more typical character, somewhat relegated to being the one with potential and few opportunities from his family; although he does have loyalty and a personality that makes up for the lack of originality. Leon and Martinez make for extremely aggressive and unpredictable villains, and Perico is a wildcard that helps the surprise factor grow. Lola is weak as the hidden girlfriend that only comes into play to help clue the audience into more of Moe's life; but does make a good impression while present.
The Crime: While deriving some elements from classics like the French Connection, the movie does retain its own sense of place and personality through its characters and crimes. Bader knows how to make the connection from the leads feel sympathetic by making the baddies worse. It's tried, true, and a little cheap but it works. The crime plot starts confusing but makes more sense as things go on. Moe and Skunk work for Perico who works with the city counsel and buys off the cops who try to get around Perico by ripping off his supposedly bought-off deals while Moe and Skunk try to make their own dealings which comes back to bite them since the drugs they wanted to buy are "on loan" from the evidence locker, bringing them back to Perico who comes around to trusting Moe again and assists Moe in his retaliation against the cops and so on and so forth. It's complicated and there's a handful of extraneous parts that make for more confusion and a bit of contrivance, but the end result is satisfying and mostly makes sense.
The Technics: Despite a fair few hiccups with the writing, some over-plotting, and some underdeveloped characters, Killerman has things to offer. Production aspects like the locations and lighting are phenomenal, clearly throwing back to mid '70s crime films with a heavy emphasis on grime. Very few places, if any, feel like sets specifically designed for the movie, and the marked contrast of dark alleys, clubs, apartments, and seedy buildings against fluorescent white lights just adds to that semi-nostalgia. Cinematography is equal parts throwback and modern. Plenty of shots have a voyeuristic touch to them while others use angles and height to great effect like the best dramas of recent memory. However, the runtime is a little ragged and self-indulgent with an abundance of establishing shots and lingering silences, which does keep the movie from being as efficient and breathless as possible. The minutia doesn't take away from the whole.
Bader made a strong impression that has plenty of inspiration and a dose of originality lying under some familiar settings and characters. A comprehensive dive into the shambles of a wounded mind, an investing crime, and two fantastic performances from Hemsworth and Cohen keep this sometimes overlong movie arresting.
- Feb 1, 2021