An obsessed, fool-hearted hitman named Blake (Teran Killam) is determined to kill the very best hitman in the game, Gunther (Arnold Schwarzenegger). While the hitman profession is based on anonymity, Blake doesn’t think that far through and more importantly wants to make sure he gets the notoriety and credit that goes with killing the greatest of all time. So he enlists a camera crew to document his every step or rather misstep in the comedic mocumentary KILLING GUNTHER.
The premise to KILLING GUNTHER is a clever and humorous spin on a genre that sometimes overplays its hand but continues to find new areas of growth. While KILLING GUNTER is not a found footage film, it is a documentary style, talk into the camera, reality television type movie that has a fresh idea on an old concept. It’s a comedy about a hitman trying to kill another hitman. KILLING GUNTHER is like MAD magazine’s Spy vs. Spy but with the fight being completely one sided.
Blake realizes he needs help, so he enlists his own rag tag suicide squad of hitmen. His best friend Donnie (SNL’s Bobby Moynihan) is a crazy explosives expert. Sanaa (New Girl’s Hanna Simone) is trying to get out o the shadow of her famous father who is her number one fan. Joining the core three are a couple of Russian siblings who are more excited about the tourism in the United States, a man with a Bond villain type mechanical arm that can crush almost anything, and a poison expert who carries small vials of snake venom and who might be the dumbest one of the group, which is saying a lot. His character also manages the biggest laugh-out-loud moment in the film. In addition, Blake recruits a computer hacker kid who happens to be a major fan of Gunther.
I’m a big Saturday Night Live fan. Unlike many other’s opinion, I think the show is consistently decent with at least a couple of laugh-out-loud moments and clever observations each week. Sure every season has its ups and downs and most of the sketches could be a lot funnier, but what do you expect with a break neck schedule of writing and producing live week to week? The whole process fascinates me and I usually latch on to a few of the performers as well. Currently, I’m a fan of Beck Bennett and Mikey Day. However, a few years back, a couple of cast members that caught my attention were Bobby Moynihan and an underrated Taran Killam (I love his critic character Jebidiah Atkinson). So I might be a little biased with my cheering on of Mr. Killam who stars, writes and directs his first feature film comedy, KILLING GUNTHER.
The big star of the film is Arnold Schwarzenegger who plays the elusive Gunther. His part is more of a glorified cameo but it sticks. He does a great job with his part, which comes in the last third of the film. The problem is, the film keeps him away as if it’s a big reveal. However, the film needs Schwarzenegger’s name to get any traction or interest as he is the headline name so we know he’s coming. I know it goes against the whole concept, but KILLING GUNTHER may have been better served to have a little more Gunther from start to finish rather than just finish. Still, he’s a strong closing act and I’m not sure there is a better solution as some of the best laughs come in his revealing moments.
The bottom line is that like many SNL sketches, KILLING GUNTHER should have been funnier. While it doesn’t quite capitalize on its humorous idea, it’s not a total loss. The premise and the actors still manage some laughs and it’s always fun to see Arnold on screen. I think Killam is a talented comedic actor with some creatively funny ideas that I hope to see more of in future projects.