Killshot John Madden

Killshot John Madden
Films that fall victim to the dreaded direct-to-DVD dump tend to meet their bargain basement end for good reason. It's hard to guess why this totally decent flick, sporting high-pedigree talent, was relegated to such a fate. You'd think a principle cast of Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Thomas Jane and Rosario Dawson, directed by a guy who had success aplenty with Shakespeare In Love, from a script based on an Elmore freakin' Leonard novel would've had to foul up the screen fiercely to get the project shelved, then swept under the rug. It's by no means flawless but it's well acted and slightly unconventional in its pacing and plotting without colouring outside the lines of a traditional crime thriller. The dialogue is snappy and shorn of the linguistic clichés that pockmark lazy script writing, due largely to the valuable source material, one would assume, and the decision not to douse the story in Hollywood bleach. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, continuing a string of powerhouse performances that seems like it could only be broken by, oh, say, an upcoming toy franchise payday, gets the flashy role of young, trashy, ignorant-as-fuck psycho criminal Richie Nix. This manic buffoon tries to carjack Rourke's seasoned hit man, Armand "the Blackbird" Degas, and a little brother/replacement mentorship bond starts forming. Levitt furiously rages around like a half-mad Chow Chow off his leash after a breakfast of kibbles and crystal meth, while Blackbird tries to impart values of thought and efficiency in criminal activity. A bizarre shakedown tactic involving real estate results in mistaken identity and Thomas Jane and Diane Lane's married couple on the verge of crumbling are placed under protection as the only still-breathing witnesses of the Blackbird at work. The action is tight and appropriately frantic and while Rourke's Native American accent is a little uncomfortable, and Levitt does indulge in viciously blatant scenery chewing, Killshot is a solidly entertaining film that by no means deserved to be pushed naked into the streets, with nary a feature to cloth the Weinstein's unfounded shame. (Alliance)