Killing Season sees Robert DeNiro and John Travolta team-up on screen for the first time. Director Mark Stephen Johnson (Daredevil/Ghost Rider) delivers an enjoyable enough thriller, and while the stars give it their all, things are a little too far-fetched to be believable.
DeNiro plays a former UN soldier living in the wilds of the Appalachian Mountains. His reclusive existence is shattered when John Travolta’s Serbian veteran arrives to take revenge for events which took place on Belgrade many years before. A cat and mouse game takes place as both men fight for survival in the wilderness.
Don’t let the A-list talent fool you, Killing Season is a B-movie through and through. It might be pitched as a survival drama with political subtext about war crimes, and atrocities, but this really is strictly a by-the-numbers thriller. There’s of course nothing wrong with that though. Mark Stephen Johnson’s film is well executed and well acted and for the first 45 minutes or so, well conceived. However, things begin to fall apart somewhat in the last half of the movie as things begin to get more absurd. It becomes a game of oneupmanship as both characters constantly get the better of each other. At times it felt like the script was divied-up in pre-production so each actor would get an even amount of success and failure – like the onscreen equivalent of the Paul Newman/Steve McQueen poster negotiations.
The pairing of DeNiro and Travolta Season is what really makes Killing Season worth your time. Take them away and your left with a standard Hollywood thriller. It’s well made, but there’s nothing more to the film than a few well executed thrills (Johnson knows how to create some solid tension) though it is a shame they’re weren’t some more. Both stars have many better films in their back catalogues and this feels a little subpar when you compare it to those. Johnson’s film is very proficient on a technical level, with Peter Menzie’s cinematography showing off the impressive landscapes.
Sometimes all you need to entertain you is a decent thriller to give you a few edge of your seat moments. Killing Season fits the bill, throwing in enough thrills to keep you occupied for 90 minutes. It’s not going to change your outlook on movies, but Robert DeNiro and John Travolta make a very engaging screen pair.