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Alliance Films' May '09 Releases

Killshot (May 23/09)

Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard, Killshot follows a pair of thugs (Mickey Rourke's Blackbird and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Richie Nix) as they terrorize an estranged married couple (Thomas Jane's Wayne and Diane Lane's Carmen) that witnessed their violent efforts at shaking down a prominent real estate mogul (Don McManus' Nelson Davies). It's not surprisingly to note that Killshot has been languishing on the shelf since 2006, as the film - though far from the all-out disaster one might've expected - suffers from an increasingly uneven sensibility that ultimately renders its few positive attributes moot. Rourke's decision to employ a Native American accent certainly ranks high on the movie's list of problems, as the actor's exceedingly ostentatious performance proves a consistent distraction and effectively prevents the viewer from accepting the character as a fully-realized figure (ie we're never not aware we're watching Mickey Rourke struggle to become this guy). It subsequently goes without saying that Killshot slowly-but-surely squanders its admittedly promising (and surprisingly stripped-down) premise, with the film's stirring opening half hour inevitably giving way to an atmosphere of pointlessness that becomes almost impossible to overlook. And although it's hard not to derive some enjoyment out of Gordon-Levitt's go-for-broke, unapologetically over-the-top turn as the trigger-happy Richie Nix, Killshot finally establishes itself as a thoroughly misguided endeavor that certainly deserves a place alongside such other ill-fated Leonard adaptations as The Big Bounce and Be Cool.

out of

Outlander (May 25/09)

Though saddled with a disastrously overlong running time and an opening half hour that's almost unbearably slow going, Outlander ultimately establishes itself as a fun little endeavor that boasts as irresistible a premise as one could possibly imagine. The movie, set in 8th-century Norway, follows alien warrior Kainan (Jim Caviezel) as he crash lands on Earth along with a fearsome creature known as the Moorwen, with the bulk of the storyline detailing Kainan's efforts at insinuating himself within a local Viking tribe and leading their subsequent charge against the aforementioned creature. It's the sort of set-up that would seem to lend itself naturally to a briskly-paced, unapologetically violent B movie, and while there are certainly a number of enthralling sequences peppered throughout, Outlander's oppressively bloated sensibilities play an instrumental role in diminishing its overall impact (ie the film should've topped out at 80 minutes, max). The ineffective first act inevitably gives way to a surprisingly involving midsection that benefits substantially from the supporting cast's collective efforts, with actors such as John Hurt, Sophia Myles, and Ron Perlman effortlessly breathing life into the otherwise stagnant proceedings - thus ensuring that the viewer is slowly-but-surely drawn into the increasingly compelling fish-out-of-water tale. Caviezel's expectedly strong work goes a long way towards keeping things tolerable even through Outlander's less-than-enthralling stretches, while the fantastic battle sequence that transpires at about the one-hour mark virtually justifies the movie's entire existence. The anti-climactic third act that ensues undoubtedly stands as further proof of the film's lamentable overlength, with the end result an almost terminally uneven piece of work that's nevertheless worth a look if only for the you've-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it nature of its premise.

out of

About the DVDs: Alliance Films presents both titles with anamorphically-enhanced transfers, and although Killshot comes up empty in terms of bonus materials, Outlander's supplemental content includes a commentary track, 41 minutes (!) of deleted scenes, visual effects tests, and much more.
© David Nusair