When it comes to gun-toting, ass-kicking couples, Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl aren’t exactly on a par with Brad & Angelina. In Mr & Mrs Smith the dynamic between the latter two was so damn hot they ended up getting married. In the new action rom com Killers, Heigl and Kutcher display all the chemical attraction of a failed junior school science experiment on a wet Wednesday afternoon. Dull? Why yes, and then some.
Heigl plays uptight, recently-dumped Jen who – as you do when you’re dumped – goes on holiday to the South of France with her overbearing parents (Tom Selleck and Katherine O’Hara). In the hotel she runs into buff fellow American Spencer (Kutcher). What she doesn’t know is that he’s a hired killer who’s in France to whack someone for the government. The pair fall in love, get married and set up home in an affluent suburb, Spencer ditching his job without telling Jen his secret.
Fast forward three years and their married bliss is disturbed when the neighbours all start trying to kill Spencer. Turns out there’s a $20m bounty on his head (let’s not trouble ourselves wondering why that would be when he’s been out of the business for three years). Cue a load of slick, seen-it-all-before action sequences, the odd car chase and some moribund banter as our dull stars go through the rom com motions.
The one redeeming feature is Selleck’s turn as Jen’s gruff daddy – he actually manages to raise some laughs, and when all around is inducing coma levels of boredom, one can at least marvel at the sustained quality of his moustache.
Anyone who watched Saturday afternoon TV in the 80s or early 90s should remember MacGyver, the resourceful mullet-haired action dude who needed only a penknife and some string to turn household objects into weapons to fend off villains. Unless you’ve lived recently in the States, however, you might not be aware of MacGruber, a pastiche of the character which originated on the sketch show Saturday Night Live. Each episode typically sees MacGruber (Will Forte) attempt to deactivate a ticking bomb, become distracted, and fail. Comic gold, clearly. Here, MacGruber makes an unexpected leap to the big screen in a feature film of his own, with big-name (sort of) stars Ryan Phillippe and Val Kilmer on hand to bolster the box office draw. It may seem a bit random, but it’s not without fun moments for grown-up fans of the original show.
MacGruber is called out of retirement to help defeat his old arch nemesis Dieter von Cunth (silent h, seriously), played by Kilmer. Cunth, having stolen a nuclear warhead, is intent on world destruction, and only MacGruber can stop him. Unfortunately our hero has grown a little rusty in his retirement and requires the help of Phillippe’s army officer and Saturday Night Live regular Kristen Wiig to track down and “pound some cunth”.
The spoof genre is certainly a well-trodden path, but fortunately director Jorma Taccone understands that with a movie like MacGruber, if you’re not laughing, you’re probably bored – MacGruber offers just about enough Airplane-style quick fire to keep things ticking over and to cover the fact that, behind the gags, there’s nothing else on offer here.