THE WRESTLER has been hailed as the "return of Mickey Rourke." The catchphrase is inaccurate though. Mickey Rourke has been churning out movies like KILLSHOT all along. He has maintained his heavy party schedule while still cranking out crime-thrillers like this for years. KILLSHOT is old-school Mickey Rourke, doing what he was put on this planet to do: menace, shoot things, and operate with a set of rules that do not apply to the rest of humanity. Furthermore, he is fascinating to watch. His granite face is constantly encased in a metaphysical grimace of lifelong regret. Rourke does "life lived long, hard, and not by your rules" well.
Killshot's director is some guy named John Madden. He isn't the football guy; he is the guy responsible for CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN. This is a man who is used to handling lame projects. And in the scheme of things, KILLSHOT is sure to be classified "lame" in the end. But for John Madden, KILLSHOT is a step up.
The film starts with a narration from Rourke about how to step into a situation, assassinate the target, and leave no loose ends. This method of plot delivery is lifted straight from Statham's TRANSPORTER series. There is a code that needs to be followed, and this code gets jacked...hard. Rourke speaks to the viewer in voice-over as a botched job that he was on plays out on the screen. In this botched job, Rourke's character Blackbird shoots his own brother in slow motion. We are left to assume that this happened a little while ago because the next time we see Blackbird, his ponytail is a little bit longer.
Rourke attempts to portray Blackbird as a complex character, but it doesn't always work. Rourke does rugged and stoic well, but he can't adopt an accent to save a film.Speaking a broken English that sounds much more french-Canadian than American Indian, Rourke at times mumbles with an accent, and at times does not. Blackbird takes a call for his cliche just-one-last-job-and-I'm-out-of-the-game hit, and from this point the plot takes shape.
This movie is a Rourke showcase. However, Diane Lane, Thomas Jane, Rosario Dawson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are all in the mix doing their parts as well. Thomas Jane's Wayne and Diane Lane's Carmen are going through one of the cleanest, most efficient divorces ever. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's runt-braggart Richie Nix forces his way into Blackbird's life thereby cementing a crime partnership.
The crime partnership of Blackbird and Nix is impossible. It makes no sense whatsoever. Nix is obviously imbalanced; Blackbird is a cold professional. There is mention of a similarity between Nix and the brother that Blackbird gunned down, but that really isn't enough to get the plot close to believable.
One of Blackbird's TRANSPORTER codes is that no one can see his face. But Nix is the wildcard, and through a series of stupid mishaps, Carmen sees Blackbird's face. Thus begins the second act. Blackbird and Nix are looking for Wayne and Carmen, the FBI is involved, and so are Blackbird's crimelord employers. There is an impossible DNA swap and a showdown. Carmen spends about 15 minutes of screentime in her underwear. It is really unfortunate that Diane Lane has been consigned to aging sexpot status.
I don't need to say anything other than happy ending here. Somehow, we are supposed to forgive the crypto-racist undercarriage of this film and accept it as something wholesome. I say this because the plot finishes in standard Hollywood fashion. Ugliness is never truly explored, just desserts are rewarded, and Rourke does what we know he will do.
Despite the weeping flaws in this film, Mickey Rourke does BADASS like no other. If he never gets an Academy Award, he can do stuff like this for the rest of his life and still be a fascinating character to behold.