Better than expected —
I sat down to this movie expecting the worst film ever made, thanks to the “critics” blabbing on about bad accents, poor performances and bandying the word “pretentious” about. Some people are never happy and insist on any movie with a big name in it, to be deep and meaningful. What utter nonsense. Robert De Niro has served his time now, by giving some of the greatest performances ever put to film, like as Jake Lamotta in Raging Bull, or when he played Noodles, Louis Cyphre, Al Capone or the crazy Max Candy in Cape Fear. I can name a lot more, but you get the idea.
The way I see it is that some actors simply enjoy their job and like to act as often as possible. De Niro is one of the greats who isn’t going to wait for $10 million per film before he’ll get out of bed, so why complain when he takes on roles that simply take his fancy? Then we have another good actor who also takes on work he fancies. Admittedly John Travolta has recently been a bit better (sometimes) at picking good roles, with some classics in there, like Pulp Fiction, Swordfish, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Battlefield Earth (Oops! forget that one) and more recently Savages, so again, a hard working actor. Even the ridiculously underutilised Milo Ventimiglia is a good performer who can act with the best of them, so I do understand the frustration, but what is so wrong about simply making a movie for the fun of it?
The film starts by showing us soldiers in some sort of urban combat in the streets of Serbia. After a message comes up explaining that in 1995, American Military Forces and their NATO allies, finally intervene by launching Operation Deliberate Force, we get into the movie proper. A boxcar full of decomposing, skeletal remains of people caught up in the fighting are on display. Next to the tracks is a large pit, where a row of kneeling men are being shot in the back of the head, one by one. The final victim is none other than Emil Kovac (Travolta), but we only hear a shot, then it shows you Emil very much alive, several years later. he’s meeting with a man to purchase secret NATO files, one of which contains the details of Colonel Ben Ford (De Niro), who appears to be of interest to the Serb.
Ben is out in the woods, tracking deer. He sets up a hide and when two bucks come along, he takes out a camera and takes a few pictures (we’re obviously meant to see he is nice and cuddly now, and won’t kill anything), but thanks to an old leg wound from the war, he scares them away when he stumbles. Later, he goes out for pain medication but his jeep breaks down, but a stranger (Emil) comes out of nowhere and helps sort the problem. A night of drinking ensues, where Emil learns Ben doesn’t see his son very often and isn’t the man he once was. They meet in the morning and after preparing to hunt with radios and bows, they split up, and finally Emil tells him who he really is by firing an arrow at him.
What follows is tit-for-tat cruelty and torture, along with a few cliched speeches (I didn’t say the whole of the film was good!) and some of the torture scenes were indeed inventive … and painful. Like when Ben is shot through the muscle in his lower leg. Emil makes him feed a thin rope through the wound, then hangs him up by it. Eye watering stuff. I’ll agree that this class of actor was not needed for the two leads, even Milo was way too good for Killing Season, but so what? It was still not bad and I have no problem recommending it. As long as you aren’t the fussy kind who insists on Shakespearean type performances in advertisements.
by Nav Qateel