Killing Gunther Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cobie Smulders, Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan
  • Director: Taran Killam
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: December 26, 2017
  • Run Time: 93 minutes

        The idea of an action mockumentary is unique enough to warrant praise, but the execution of Killing Gunther is so bland that the result is wholly forgettable regardless of the creative concept. The action is often fast-paced, but the addition of a sketch-comedy sensibility completely eliminates any impact the violence might have other than cheap laughs. Ultimately, this feels like a rejected idea from a “Saturday Night Live” episode, which makes sense considering writer/director/star Taran Killam left the cast of the comedy sketch show to make this film. He managed to put together an impressive cast, including Arnold Schwarzenegger briefly appearing in the title role, but all of the talent feels sadly wasted without better material.

        Killam wrote himself the leading role of Blake, an assassin with a grudge against the top hit man in the game. In order to take down the elusive Gunther (Schwarzenegger), Blake puts together a team of assassins to find and kill their competitor. Among these killers is an explosives expert (Bobby Mynihan), a poison expert (Aaron Yoo), a terrorist (Amir Talai), and a couple of psychopaths (Allison Tolman and Steve Bacic). The cast also includes Cobie Smulders (Killam’s real-life wife) as the woman who came between Blake and Gunther. The only problem is that Gunther always seems to be one step ahead, picking off each member of the assassin team without being detected. This also allows Schwarzenegger to remain absent from the film for the first hour of the 90-minute film.

        The film is split between cheaply constructed action sequences and scenes of highly improvised banter, including the typical mockumentary tropes. Even with a high body count and a mostly fast pace, a majority of the film is spent listening to these talented comedic actors all attempting to steal the spotlight with their own individual brand of quirky humor. And when there is actual action scenes, they are mostly filled with cheap CGI and unconvincing choreography, as this is a comedy above all else. The improvised humor comes in the form of aimless conversations between the assassins on their mission and the obligatory interview footage, giving the talking head perspective that we have come to expect from mockumentaries. Unfortunately, it all feels a bit forced, and there is nothing less funny than actors trying desperately to be humorous without the material to back the intentions.

        The Blu-ray release includes a handful of deleted scenes (all of which were wisely cut from the film), and a blooper reel to show that the filmmaking process was likely much more enjoyable than the end product. The package comes with a Digital HD copy of the film.

Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5.5/10
Historical Significance:  2/10
Special Features: 3/10

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