by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

You see it above: the dreaded question mark which leaves no question that something is amiss.

A lot in this case.

Killshot is a routine gangster flick about a divorcing couple who witness an attempted murder, and thus become targets for the killers. The FBI sends them into witness protection, but the killers are quite a bit smarter than the FBI and figure out a way to fake their own deaths, thus flushing the witnesses out of hiding and back to their home.

The film is not without positives, the strongest of which is the powerful, dominating presence of Mickey Rourke as a cool and composed native American (?!) who works as a professional killer. The story comes from an Elmore Leonard book, and Mr. Leonard's work has inspired several memorable films, including Jackie Brown, Get Shorty, Out of Sight, two versions of The Big Bounce, and two versions of 3:10 to Yuma. The cinematographer is Caleb Deschanel, arguably the best in the business (5 Oscar nominations). The director is John Madden, who was nominated for an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. The supporting cast is solid as well: Diane Lane and Tom Jane play the endangered couple.

And she looks so young.

Because she was!

And that brings us back to the matter of the question mark. You're probably wondering why a film with all that A-list and B-list firepower is going straight to the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. Long story.

Killshot had a troubled development process. Filming was completed in 2005, but that footage proved incapable of being edited into an acceptable film, so the principals were called back for more shooting in January of 2007. In the re-writing process, one main character was eliminated altogether, so Johnny Knoxville, who was featured prominently in the original theatrical trailer back in 2006, ended up being cut from the film completely. At various times, script revisions were done by Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, both of whom were inconsiderate enough to die before the film could be completed. At one time Quentin Tarantino was attached to the film in some type of producer status, but he didn't end up signing the scorecard. Over the years, the film had been tentatively scheduled for a release in five or six different periods, all of which got postponed as the key distribution deadlines approached. At least some of that had to do with internal problems at the Weinstein studio. In the process of reorganizing their operation in the past year or so, the Weinsteins tried (and failed) to sell their rights to this film, but no other studios took the bait. After all the starts and stops, the film's final theatrical presence in North America was limited to a trial run in five theaters in Phoenix, after which the suits decided to release it to DVD with no theatrical rollout. It might have found its way into a few more theaters on the coattails of a Mickey Rourke Oscar, but the Mickster lost out to Sean Penn, and that shut off the last hope for a Killshot run in the cineplexes.

To be honest, this film is better than many theatrical releases, but everyone could see that it was not headed for blockbuster status, and nobody was much motivated to push it. Fixed expenses had already been covered, of course, but nobody was confident that the film would cover the variable expenses involved in a theatrical run. It might have grossed $20 million or so with a little luck, but a big chunk of that would have been eaten up by the usual costs of making prints and buying ads. Given that the studios pick up all of the variable expenses but get only about half of the gross, and given that the cash outlays occur before the grosses accrue, the Weinsteins didn't like their odds, so the DVD path seemed to be less risky, especially since the studio seems to be watching the pennies in the midst of rumored cash flow problems

So it goes.

As for the film itself, it lacks anything to make it memorable, but it's not such a bad watch if you ignore some of the implausible elements of the script and just focus on the positives I listed above. It would have been a mediocre theatrical product, but as a straight-to-DVD product, it is primo rental material for fans of the genre! The Mickster alone, fascinating as always,  makes it a worthwhile time-killer for those who like the Elmore Leonard oeuvre.

DVD Elmore Leonard novel


No major reviews online


7.4 IMDB summary (of 10)


No general theatrical release.


In one scene, the Mickster blows away Mark Twain (Hal Holbrook topless, woo-hoo!) and a topless chick (Alexis Butler).

In this scene, the Mickster continues his murderin' ways, but does not kill Diane Lane, who spends the entire scene wearing only a flimsy t-shirt and panties in what was obviously a very cold room. And remember this film was lensed four years before it was released, so Diane looks that much riper!


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It is a watchable movie; one might call it excellent by STV standards.