Friday, 9 November 2007

Killing Machine


KILLING MACHINE (1994)

Directed by: David Mitchell
Screenplay by: David Mitchell & Damien Lee
Starring: Jeff Wincott, Terri Hawkes and Michael Ironside.

Despite its reputation as a superior and solid B-movie action flick, Killing Machine (aka The Killing Man) is still a hit and miss affair. On the one hand, it is a superior B-movie, creatively made and featuring an excellent performance from Jeff Wincott. On the other, it suffers from a rather dull middle section, a lack of action and a meagre budget that hampers some of its lofty ambitions.

Harlin Garrett (Wincott) is saved from a deadly fire-fight and 70 % body burns by a mysterious government agency headed by a Mr. Green (Ironside). Holed up in a secret facility he is rebuilt from scratch (new face and sex with a busty nurse inclusive). In payment for his new body and wiping clean his dubious past, Garrett is forced to work for Green and his company as a hired killer. Sent on missions to wipe out those who threaten society, Garrett begins to question his role as a killer. Falling for his latest victim, he decides to take his life back into his own hands and settle some scores with Green.

Killing Machine is an entertaining film, just not an entirely satisfying one. Taking a familiar story, director David Mitchell (Mask of Death) has attempted to do things a little differently. A darker vibe than your usual action fodder helps give the film a feel all of its own. Garrett’s voice-over musings on death and identity are a nice touch and give a little more depth to the typical action man. However, they do begin to grate after a while and seem thrown in as if the production couldn’t afford another action sequence. The tense and mysterious opening scenes within the facility soon give way to a meandering and often uneventful middle section, where Wincott goes about his killings and falls in love with one of his victims. It’s a valid attempt at character development, with a few pointless fights thrown in, but it all pales in comparison to the film’s earlier scenes. Garrett’s ‘missions’ are also lacklustre, meaning he just walks around smoking until he bumps into the person he is supposed to kill. Ironside’s character, who is a menacing character in the earlier parts, is relegated to just popping up out of nowhere at random intervals to remind Garrett of how his country needs him. Shame really, as Ironside is a quality actor and his character could have been fleshed more.

On the upside, the film is still fairly entertaining. There is some creative camerawork that keeps things ticking along nicely and as mentioned, Wincott gives one of his best performances. Things pick up towards the end when Green and his men begin to hunt down Garrett and his love. There is some tense gunplay and Ironside gets a cool death scene. The ending is somewhat abrupt, but hats off to the filmmakers for not wrapping up everything neat and tidy, and happy.

Killing Machine is a noble effort at trying something different within the action genre. Not completely successful, Killing Machine is still better than most direct-to-video actioners and is worth a look on a Friday night with a few beers.

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