Here’s “Killerman” in a nutshell: It’s Jason Bourne, except the lead character’s not an amnesiac spy; he’s an amnesiac money launderer.
Liam Hemsworth, younger brother of Chris Hemsworth (Thor), who is probably best known for divorcing Miley Cyrus, plays a dashingly handsome young man, who apparently had no other options in life but to make drug-money-laundering rounds in a 1970s-level grimy New York City. Maybe his lowlife destiny was foisted upon him by his name: Moe Diamond; it’s so gangster.
Moe buys bricks of gold worth around $600,000 with giant stacks of drug-cash, then he resells the gold, and receives checks in huge dollar amounts—laundry cycle complete. Life is pretty nice; he’s got a drop-dead-gorgeous Colombian girlfriend (Diane Guerrero) and a baby on the way.
However, Moe’s got a buddy named Skunk (Emory Cohen), who, while safeguarding a separate giant stack of cash for his uncle (Zlatko Buric), has the brilliant idea of using uncle Perico’s money for a sweet little side drug deal.
Skunk feels it’s time to break out on his own, get something started for himself. Moe’s not so sure. Why? Skunk’s uncle Perico is an old-school, Slavic mobster with big plans for that cash—like buying some politicians to put in his pocket. What could possibly go wrong here?
Bonked on the Head
Who’s got the drugs? That would be “Debo, the Nigerian” (Coletrane Williams). The deal goes down, but, oops, the drugs-for-cash party is crashed by some dirty cops, and the ensuing car chase/crash bonks Moe mightily upon his noggin, and now he’s Jason Bourne.
Skunk emancipates Moe from his hospital bed, trailing IV tubes, because the dirty cops are closing in. Moe still can’t remember who he is when Skunk attempts to jog his memory by showing him some drugs and cash. I mean you’d think that would work, right, because Moe knows drugs and cash?
So off they go to a nightclub: garish strobes, pounding house music, girls—how about some cocaine and some drinking? That’s so good for a concussion. But no. No deal.
Will Moe get his memory back? Will he marry his girl, or will she get shot? Will the dirty cops get their comeuppance? Will Skunk? Will somebody get chewed on by a K-9? One thing’s for certain: Everyone in this film is in sore need of a karmic comeuppance except the girlfriend.
Let’s see. … Nah. Unless you’re in need of a gratuitous violence fix. Had they trimmed the running time by a third and given Moe a character arc that, like Jason Bourne, eventually leads to his roundly denouncing his former profession and starting to elevate his moral character out of the deadly and into the light, I’d almost recommend it.
Its main cinematic sin, however, is the pacing. There are too many long stretches of low conflict that, while trying for realism, just lead to boredom. In showbiz, there’s a saying: “Never be boring.”
And the soundtrack might best be described as “Sonata for Plumbers Working in Your House, Banging on Pipes in the Basement.”
Director Malik Bader does a workmanly job playing one of the dirty cops. Mike Moh, recently turning in an uncanny Bruce Lee impersonation in Quentin Tarantino’s recent “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” is hugely underused. Emory Cohen, who was particularly effective as a small-time drug dealer in “Hot Summer Nights,” even though he’s playing a similar role here, is regrettably lightweight.
Hemsworth, while he looks good in anything he’s in, because, well, he’s very good-looking, looks a little bit bad for taking this role, because its dark nature requires an ability to, intensely, come from a darker soul place, and Hemsworth might be a bit too noble for it. I’m trying to avoid saying he’s less of an accomplished actor than, say, Matt Damon, who could knock this role out of the park, intensity-wise.
It’s been argued that “Killerman” is a throwback to the dark days of male toxicity, but that’s basically like saying, back in the days when rattlesnakes had toxic venom, they killed people. Rattlesnakes have hemotoxic venom, and bad people who deal drugs, launder money, and kill people are toxic. End of story.
If you’re a sensitive, gender-fluidity-aware individual, who loves to sanctimoniously bandy the term “toxic masculinity” about, and whose personal toxic drug use fuels the toxic cartel activity in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, then, ahem—ain’t you part of the toxicity in the world today? So can everybody please shut up with the toxic masculinity already; most everybody in the world today is toxic.
In closing, the title turns out to be not as silly as it sounds, but if it’s the silly-sounding title that puts you off seeing this film—I recommend allowing it to do so.
Director: Malik Bader
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Emory Cohen, Diane Guerrero, Zlatko Buric, Suraj Sharma, Nickola Shreli, Mike Moh
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes
Release Date: Aug. 30
Rated: 2.5 stars out of 5