10th Jul2018

‘Killing Gunther’ DVD Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Taran Killam, Cobie Smulders, Bobby Moynihan, Amir Talai, Allison Tolman, Hannah Simone, Peter Kelamis, Amir Talai, Ryan Gaul, Aaron Yoo | Written and Directed by Taran Killam


NOTE: With the film finally hitting DVD, here’s a repost of our review of Killing Gunther from its VOD release back in March(!)

With a documentary crew in tow to record the process, hit man Blake (Taran Killam) leads a group of skilled assassins who have had enough of the world’s number one hitman Gunther (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and decide to do what they do best, kill him! Despite the combined talents of the team however, completing the kills turns out to be a harder than they had expected, as their plans turn into a series of bungled encounters with Gunther always seeming to be one step ahead.

Killing Gunther is a clever dark comedy from writer-director Taran Killam, which incorporates the current trend for reality TV; although in this mockumentary it is a group of trained assassins. The film has plenty of laughs thanks to the talented cast which Taran has assembled. They are an eclectic mixture of characters who manages to keep the momentum of jokes flowing in the first half of the film. The team includes; Donnie (Bobby Moynihan) an eccentric and excitable explosives expert. Sanaa (Hannah Simone) a next generation assassin who remains under the constant eye of her notorious father Rahmat aka The Nightmare (Peter Kelamis), who also happens to be her number one fan. Izzat (Amir Talai) a former terrorist who has the strength to crush things with his bionic arm. Gabe the internet hacker who is also referred to as the human computer and the crazy Russian twins Mia (Allison Tolman), and Barold (Ryan Gaul). With a very different skillset they all bring something different to the team, however my favourite assassin has to be Yong (Aaron Yoo). His modus operandi is poisoning his victims at close range due to the fact the sight of blood and guns makes him violently ill. As expected being surrounded by a group of armed killers with such limited killing capabilities creates some ridiculous, but extremely funny moments.

This comedy works perfectly for the first half of the film when the emphasis was on the assassins, however when the focus of the story changes half way through it begins to the lose the momentum. Taran still manages to throw in a few explosive twists, but the film doesn’t really pick up again until the final 20 minutes where we are finally introduced to Arnold Schwarzenegger as Gunther. His late appearance will be disappointing to some fans who were expecting to see him in action throughout the film, but his brilliantly over the top performance makes it worth the wait. Despite having success with comedy films such as Twins (1988) and Kindergarten Cop (1990), where it was more the humour of the situation than Arnie’s performance that made the films so funny, or in the case of Junior (1994) not so much. In Killing Gunther however, he steals the film with his eccentric performance as the self-assured and somewhat obnoxious Gunther. He plays the role perfectly in what has to be some of his funniest moments on film. He may not be in his prime, but with his performance as the hitman Gunther, he still kills it!

With Taran Killam’s background in comedy it is no surprise that Killing Gunther focuses more on the comedy than the action, although he does manage to execute some impressive action scenes which make the most of the documentary style camerawork. One of the most effective moments in the film is when they have Gunther surrounded on the top floor of a building, and the documentary crew continuing to film the team as they move in on him. The scene looks as though it has been completed in one shot, as the camera crew continues to follow the action, changing focus between the team members as they try to navigate their way thorough. Whether it was one take or some impressive editing, it still looks impressive.

Killing Gunther is a fun mockumentary and although it begins to lose pace halfway through there is enough comedy to end the film on a high. I would like to have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger used more in the film and fans expecting this to be his next big action blockbuster may be left somewhat disappointed. For me however they saved the best for last and having created some of his funniest moments on screen, Killing Gunther is worth seeing for that alone.

Killing Gunther is out on DVD now from Spirit Entertainment.


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