Killing Season (2013) - Two veterans of the Bosnian War — one American, one Serbian — find their unlikely friendship turn tense when one of them reveals their true intentions.
As part of my project to watch all the films of Robert De Niro, today’s movie review is for Killing Season, a 2013 action film written by Evan Daugherty and directed by Mark Steven Johnson (Ghostrider, Daredevil).
The movie revolves around two Bosnian War veterans. One veteran is an American, Benjamin Ford (Robert De Niro) whose life has become one of being a recluse in the back hills of Appalachia, ignoring his family and struggling with the atrocities he not only witnessed but participated in. The other veteran is a Serbian, Emil Kovac (John Travolta) who narrowly escaped assassination by Ford and the American troops and since the war has been hunting for Ford to make him confess his war crimes and suffer the consequences. Ford and Kovac meet surreptitiously at Ford’s little cabin, and at first exchange food and drink only to have the reality surface of Kovac’s intent to kill Ford. The remainder of the film is a cat-and-mouse game that tests the wills of each survivor, and opens old war wounds whilst showing the effects of war on the human mind.
There is a little baptism sub-plot that involves De Niro’s character Benjamin Ford’s son (Milo Ventimiglia) & his wife (Elizabeth Olin), but primarily this is a two person film. Those two people would have been a huge draw a few years ago (ok, quite a few years ago perhaps), and I still feel the first time match up of De Niro & Travolta is worth watching. As a huge Robert De Niro fan, it was nice to see him in a lead role again. Lets not forget, the man is 70 years old, so a lead role in a decent action thriller is not too shabby. He puts in a good performance, and it’s nice to see him doing something a little more serious than his dialled in bit parts in awful rom-coms from the past few years. Travolta was also on good form, and whilst after looking around online it seems I may be one of the few people to actually like this movie, and their performances, to each their own. I feel both men did a good job and I’d happily watch this again.
The action is realistic, and I was surprised by how brutal it actually was. Sure, it’s no Saw, but watching De Niro thread a rope through his calf muscle, or Travolta remove something from his face, it was executed very well. It also looked beautiful, the mountain terrain was simply stunning.
As I mentioned, there doesn’t appear to be many fans of the movie so far, and it has had a lot of criticism aimed at it. A couple of points I’d agree with the general consensus on were that Travolta’s hair and beard were pretty distracting, they looked like they were boot polished on. Also, his accent did keep slipping in places. However, a lot of people seem to feel the events from the war weren’t accurately portrayed here. In terms of the film, I took what they said and let it ride for the purpose of what I was watching. Maybe the makers of the film took some historical liberties, but they wouldn’t be the first people and I’m sure their intentions weren’t to offend people.
In summary, if you’re a fan of De Niro or Travolta then this is more than worthy of your time. Don’t like either of them or action films? Then this film is not for you. Overall it’s a solid cat-and-mouse action film, nothing too taxing and the ending fitted in nicely I felt. In times of superhero movies and remakes, it’s nice to see something a little more basic.
The project, formerly titled “Shrapnel”, was being considered by John Travolta and Nicolas Cage as a reunion project after Face/Off and by director John McTiernan as a directing vehicle.