Killing Kennedy Blu-ray Review
On the morning of November 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald puts a long package into the backseat of a neighbor’s car who was giving him a ride to work. When asked what was in the package, Oswald replies “curtain rods.”
Of course, history knows what was really in the package, and the new tele-film KILLING KENNEDY gives an up close, and sometimes fanciful, look at the events that led up to that fateful day. Though the name “Kennedy” is prominent in the title, the film divides it’s time, via flashbacks, to both the President and his accused assassin, picking up with Oswald (Rothhaar) defecting to the Soviet Union, with the threat of turning over radio secrets he learned while in the Marine Corps. Given a job in the U.S.S.R. he is introduced to a woman named Marina (Michelle Trachtenberg). They soon marry and eventually make their way back to the states, where Lee concerns himself with fringe politics.
When we meet John Kennedy (Lowe, in a very impressive performance) he is about to announce his candidacy for President of the United States. Turning to his friend and aide, Kenney O’Donnell (Richard Flood), he comments “this was supposed to be Joe,” remembering his older brother, who was killed in World War II. O’Donnell softly replies, “it was always supposed to be you.” The next three years go by in a series of scenes meant to capture important parts in both men’s lives, culminating on that fateful day in Dallas 50 years ago.
Well structured in its telling, KILLING KENNEDY concentrates more on Oswald, assumingly because there is so little that is known about him. Here he is portrayed as a man who wanted something better for himself in the way of fame. From the moment we meet him, defecting to Russia, he thinks he’s going to be treated as a hero when he arrives. He isn’t. Same when he returns. When he’s alone he fantasizes about the swarms of press reporters interviewing him about his latest deeds. He is even portrayed as having been the attempted assassin of General Edwin Walker, who had a shot fired at him while he sat in his Dallas-area home a few months before the Kennedy assassination.
Rothhaar plays Oswald as a timid man who is only assertive in his imagination. On the other side of the story, Lowe does an excellent job as JFK. His good looks softened somewhat with age, he bears a slight resemblance to our 35th president. Also, unlike some actors who take on the role, Lowe doesn’t overdo it with the Kennedy accent. Supporting work by Goodwin and Trachtenberg, as the respective wives, is very solid, especially Trachtenberg, who says more with her wide eyes then she does with her words.
If I have a problem with the film it’s some of the events presented as “factual.” Small things that the average viewer may not notice but myself, being an affirmed “assassination buff” caught instantly. One thing that you may question, and is actually true, is how a person looking up at a 6th Floor Window, and really only seeing a shadowy face, could describe the shooter as 5’10” and 160 lbs. Also, you have to wonder why over 30 policemen respond to a call about a man sneaking into a movie theatre without paying for a ticket. Not like it was a slow day.
KILLING KENNEDY BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the film is beautifully transferred. Even the archive footage, interspliced throughout, has been cleaned up.
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the audio, like the video, often makes use of archive audio (news reports, etc). And like the video, the sound is clear and well presented.
The film is available in both “Broadcast” and “Extended” versions. The Extended Version is about two minutes longer and adds nothing, in my opinion, to the overall film.
Camelot’s End: The Making of “Killing Kennedy” (19:35): A featurette with cast and crew interviews and scenes from the film.
“Killing Kennedy”: An Interview with Author Bill O’Reilly (6:06): A short love fest about the book’s co-author.
The Kennedy Mystique: (6:38): Cast and crew talk about the effects of President Kennedy on the country.
Virginia is for Lovers: Tourism Commercial (00:17): I’m guessing a deal was made prior to filming to help promote the great state of Virginia as a travel destination. I’ve been there many times. Meh.