The Killers Reviews
Lee Marvin stars as a seasoned hitman, in a remake of the 1946 film noir of the same title. This story involves the arrival of two hitmen in a location to kill a man. Upon finding him, the man simply lets himself get shot without trying to flee or barter for his life.
Different from the original film, this time, the hitmen themselves decide to find out what this man had been through to make him not care about his own death. The hitmen learn that this man used to be a great race car driver, who ended up turning to crime following an accident.
We learn these aspects of the story through flashbacks, as the two hitmen move around the country trying to find answer, and possibly where a large sum of money ended up.
In these flashbacks, the man in question is played by John Cassavetes. After meeting a dame played by Angie Dickinson, his life goes downhill from its success, as her mysterious nature leads him to crime. Another seedy character is Ronald Reagan in his final acting role, and only villainous role.
This movie is quite good. It stays true to the original film, which is based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway, but it also works as a standalone feature.
Since half the film is told in flashback, it is nice to see how well it is handled, just as in the original film. You get a very good sense on how Cassavetes' character gives into the action at the beginning and feel for him. You also get to see Lee Marvin continuing to be a badass no matter what the situation.
This is a tightly paced film too, for a crime drama. Don Siegel's direction works well combining the darker noir elements of the original, with the sped up action sense of this remake's tone. And there's a cool score from John Williams.
Charlie Strom: He knows me. I had to lean on him once.
Lee: You know 'em all, don't ya?
Charlie Strom: You never know them all.
At the time of its release, Marvin said that it was his favorite film.One morning, hitmen Charlie (Lee Marvin) and Lee (Clu Gulager) enter a school for the blind and terrorize the principal until she reveals the whereabouts of a teacher, Johnny North (John Cassavetes). As the hitmen walk toward North's upstairs classroom, the teacher receives a call warning him of their arrival. However, a saddened Johnny responds, "It's okay. I know them." He calmly waits at his desk as Charlie and Lee send him to his death in a fusilade of bullets.
As they depart from by train, Charlie admits that he is bothered that North refused to flee. He and Lee run through what they know about the man they have just killed. Johnny was once a champion race car driver whose career ended in a violent crash. Four years before his death, he was involved in a one million dollar mail truck robbery. Tempted by the thought of a $1 million payday, Charlie and Lee visit Miami in order to interview Johnny's former mechanic.
Good movie with surprise finale.
Lee Marvin, Clu Gulager, Ronald Reagan, Claude Akins and Angie Dickinson are all really good. Particularly Reagan, who apparently hated this movie (happened to be his last film). He was convincing as Jack Browning, the villain.
Cassavetes was below his usual game, and I'm pretty sure Reagan is a robot.
The mixture of location shooting versus studio shooting even in the same scene took me out of it, but that's forgivable.
There are some very decent things about this film that make it more than just novelty, though it was pretty humorous to watch Ronald Reagan smack a woman.