August 7, 2013
The poster proudly headlines two big name senior stars, Robert de Niro and John Travolta, in what looked like an action-themed movie. The casting hold much promise because of this star combination. Now is the film worth their names on the marquee?
"Killing Season" tells the story of Serbian ex-soldier Emil Kovac (John Travolta) who goes to America to seek out Benjamin Ford (Robert de Niro). Ford who was one of the US soldiers who executed Serbian soldiers back in 1995 when NATO intervened in the Serbian invasion of Bosnia, where Serbians supposedly perpetrated genocide in the name of ethnic cleansing.
This film is basically a revenge tale, but this was hyped up several notches because of the extreme torture scenes the filmmakers want us to see. It becomes a game of alternating one-upmanship on who is torturing who between the two characters, until the climactic confrontation scene. I have to say I have not seen any of the torture techniques employed here in other films.
Unfortunately, this film is not too good, despite its cast. Or could the problem be BECAUSE of its cast?
Robert de Niro seemed so bored doing the film. His acting was not convincing or as potent than when he was at his prime. He even looked too old to play this character Ford. When I found out that de Niro actually replaced Nicolas Cage for this role, now I understand why this character was written this over-the-top way.
John Travolta was his usual hyper-sinister character we are used to seeing him in when he plays the villain in a movie. His Serbian accent was as thick as his thick goatee-beard, both were atrocious. He was more restrained here when compared to the previous extra-psychotic bad guys he had portrayed before.
I guess this lackluster story and ordinary execution are the reasons why this film is not receiving the attention that an unprecedented de Niro-Travolta pairing deserves. As directed by Mark Steven Johnson (who had previously directed mediocre action films like "Ghost Rider" and "Daredevil"), the events were rather predictable as they unfolded. There could have been more suspense and tension, but that was not the case. What a waste. 4/10.