Killing Gunther

kiling-gunter-rev Killing Gunther  (2017)    Saban Films/Action-Comedy    RT: 93 minutes    Rated R (strong violence, language, some sexual material)    Director: Taran Killam    Screenplay: Taran Killam    Music: Dino Meneghin    Cinematography: Blake McClure    Release date: September 22, 2017 (VOD)/October 20, 2017 (US)    Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan, Hannah Simone, Paul Brittain, Cobie Smulders, Amir Talai, Aaron Yoo, Allison Tolman, Ryan Gaul, Peter Kelamis, Aubrey Sixto, Steve Bacic, Alex Duncan, Scott McNeil.

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 67 minutes, that’s how long it is before Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his first appearance in Killing Gunther, an excruciatingly unfunny action-comedy about a group of inept hitmen trying to kill the world’s best hitman. It’s a blatant case of false advertising. The makers pull a real bait-and-switch here. Not only is Arnie prominently featured in the poster art (his mug is slapped right in the middle!), he also receives above-the-title billing. Let me be clear on this point. Killing Gunther is NOT a Schwarzenegger flick; he merely shows up more than an hour into it and delivers a performance that he may as well have phoned in. This movie is awful in so many ways, it’s hard to keep track.

 killing gunterLet’s start with how it’s shot. Killing Gunther is done as a faux documentary which is just as annoying as found footage. Just because it worked for Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap) doesn’t mean it’ll work for every filmmaker, especially one with as little experience as Taran Killam. It’s the directorial debut of the former SNL funnyman and he botches it in every single way imaginable. He also stars as Blake, the hitman leading the operation to kill Gunther, an international assassin everybody knows about but nobody knows. Nobody has ever seen him or knows what he looks like. I’m not exactly clear why most of Blake’s team wants to kill Gunther. With Blake, it’s personal. It seems that his former girlfriend Lisa (Smulders of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) partnered with Gunther after breaking up with him. He’s never gotten over her but he’ll never admit it.

 The team includes explosives expert Donnie (Moynihan, SNL), hot bad ass Sanaa (Simone, New Girl), tech geek Gabe (Brittain, SNL) and Russian brother-sister team Barold (Gaul, Superstore) and Mia (Tolman, Downward Dog). There’s also Izzat aka Crusher (Talai, TV’s Kung Fu Panda series) whose mechanical arm repeatedly malfunctions and Yong (Yoo, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) who favors poisons because of his aversion to blood. He pukes if he sees so much as a trickle. We know why Yong wants to kill Gunther; he wants to avenge his beloved pet snake that was killed by Gunther. Unfortunately, you read that right.

 Blake hires a film crew to follow them around as they go about their business. By way of luring Gunther into the open, they set up a fake hit in Miami. It works only insofar as it brings their target to them but this is the only time they’ll have any degree of success. It wouldn’t be a spoiler to say that Gunther is always one step ahead of them. I mean, they’re all idiots. The only thing they’re experts at is screw up which they do constantly. It isn’t funny the first time; by the 10th time, it’s annoying.

 Let’s jump right to the 67-minute mark. Ah-nuld finally shows up (as Gunther, of course) and does nothing to make the movie any better. At this late stage of the game, there’s nothing he could have done to salvage Killing Gunther. To say he turns in a half-assed performance is being generous. He comes off as bored; it’s like he’s had it with goofing on his image. It’s par for the course since the movie itself is so terrible. It’s not the least bit funny. The running gag about Yong’s reaction to blood is just gross. As likable as some of the performers are (specifically Moynihan and Simone), they don’t bring any life to the proceedings. Some of the performances are absolutely lifeless. I HATE the whole documentary angle. The action scenes are poorly executed. Even the blood splatter does nothing to make this dismal action-comedy even remotely bearable.

 Also, Killing Gunther isn’t the least bit funny. It’s boring, annoying and painful to watch. It’s NOT the movie I wanted to see. Its only saving grace (if you can even call it that) is that fans finally get to hear Ah-nuld sing. If you thought Sylvester Stallone was a bad singer, wait until you hear Arnie warble a country song (“Earthquake Love”) over the end credits. He makes Sly sound like Elvis. As a lover of bad movies, I got a kick out of it. For that reason, I will grant a half-star rating to Killing Gunther. Aside from that, it’s the worst movie Schwarzenegger’s ever been involved with and yes, I’ve seen Hercules Goes to New York. My advice: DON’T WATCH IT! 

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