Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bruce Willis, Hayden Christensen, Gethin Anthony, Magi Avila, William DeMeo, Charlotte Kirk, Tamara Belous, Chelsea Mee, Tyler Jon Olson, Heather Johansen, Megan Leonard, Jesse Pruett, Shea Buckner, Chris Moss, Brian Wolfman Black Bowman, Ty Shelton, Bret Aaron Knower, Christine Dye
Written by: Nick Gordon
Directed by: Steven C. Miller
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Running Time: 97
Date: 07/21/2017

First Kill (2017)

1 Star (out of 4)

Flop Gun

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Low-budget action movies don't have to be dull or uninspired, but this one sure is. The actors phone in their performances, playing characters who are blandly unaffected in any way by the dumb plot.

In First Kill, a Wall Street broker, Will (Hayden Christensen), gets a call from the school; his son Danny (Ty Shelton) has been beat up by a bully, again. Will decides to take his family on a trip to his hometown for a little deer hunting. He runs into veteran police officer Howell (Bruce Willis) and is warned about a recent unsolved bank robbery.

In the woods, father and son run across two of the robbers, one threatening the other at gunpoint. In an effort to protect his son, Will shoots the man with the gun, who turns out to be a dirty cop. The other man, Levi (Gethin Anthony), winds up kidnapping his son, and Will is forced into an uncomfortable position between the kidnapper and the cops. Can he protect his family?

Poor Willis is stuck in a supporting role, a cop with so little motivation it's laughable. But Christensen perhaps has it worse, giving an overcooked performance as an unlikeable dad; when we first see him, he's yelling at someone on the phone, and then his idea to solve his son's bully problem is to "toughen" him up, a troubling theme that is never resolved.

All the kidnapping and shooting seems to affect the characters not at all, not even the little boy, who seems just fine, totally normal, after his ordeal. The only interesting part is the bond between the kidnapper and the kid, which is the tenderest, most emotional thing in the movie (it's weirdly similar to the recent Austin Found), but it's so disconnected that it barely counts.

Director Steven C. Miller (Extraction) puts it all together with typical, wobbly hand-held cameras and choppy editing, leaving most of the action a forgettable blur. Only an ATV chase through the woods is worth looking at.

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