REVIEW: Killing Season (2013)

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A deadly game of cat and mouse is played in the Appalachian wilderness in this action thriller starring two of Hollywood’s finest.

It has been over a decade since the Bosnian War. Retired lieutenant Benjamin Ford now lives as a recluse in the Appalachian Mountains to find peace of mind. One day, on the way to the pharmacy, his car breaks down and he meets Emil Kovac. Emil helps Benjamin fix his car and in return, Benjamin offers him a place for the night. However, after befriending Benjamin, Emil refuses the overnight stay but offers to take him hunting the following day, which Benjamin accepts.

However, Benjamin soon realizes on this hunting trip that Emil is not who he said he is. As a matter of fact, Emil has wanted to take down Benjamin for a long time now. Emil is revealed to be an ex-Serbian rebel who was captured and sent to die. However, the man who was to pull the trigger and ultimately let him live, was in fact, Benjamin. Soon, a deadly game is played between the two in the wilderness. The question is…who will survive?

Screenwriter Evan Daughtry brings politics and revenge and meshes it up quite nicely in this very interesting film that pits the likes of Robert De Niro and John Travolta as rivals from a turbulent past who are unexpectedly reunited with the latter looking for revenge for a political killing of his fellow rebels at the hands of the former. While fans may laugh at Travolta’s attempt at an Eastern European accent, his look alone proves to be quite menacing.

The film can be said to be an attempt at Robert De Niro taking a chance at being an action star over 50 in the vein of Liam Neeson in Taken and Antonio Banderas in the recently released Security. De Niro’s Benjamin starts out as a humble retired officer who prefers to live a solitary life in the wilderness. However, as he learns the truth about John Travolta’s Emil Kovac, both De Niro and Travolta really delve into playing a cat-and-mouse game like no other, going as far as torturing the bejesus out of each other.

While it is apparent in the plot that Kovac is becoming the hunter in this game against Benjamin, Benjamin finds himself eventually becoming the hunter himself and Kovac the hunted. This plays out on many levels, from Kovac forcing Benjamin, in a disturbing fashion, to be tied upside down to “confess his sin” to Kovac while Benjamin takes some drastic measures by using a new king of water torture that combines salt and lemon juice. This all culminates into a battle of wills that ends in a way against type for this brand of film.

Killing Season makes good use of both Robert De Niro and John Travolta in perhaps one of the most insane cast-and-mouse games in films. The two play each other off real well and show some great chemistry. If you can get past Travolta’s accent in the film, then you will most likely enjoy this film.

WFG RATING: B

Millennium Films present a Corsan/Nu Image production. Director: Mark Steven Johnson. Producers: Paul Breuls, Ed Cathell III, Anthony Rhulen, and John Thompson. Writer: Evan Daughtry. Cinematography: Peter Menzies Jr. Editing: Sean Albertson

Cast: Robert De Niro, John Travolta, Milo Ventimiglia, Elizabeth Olin, Diana Lyubenova, Kalin Sarmenov, Stefan Shterev

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