I don’t know about you, but, for me, seeing the names Robert De Niro and John Travolta pop up in a straight-to-DVD release is a bit of a surprise (OK, maybe not Travolta so much – but you get the point…).

But then you sit down to watch the damn thing and the whole ‘avoiding a cinema release’ saga suddenly makes sense.

For this is Killing Season, a bizarre action flick that sees the two stars squaring off against each other in a bloody battle for survival in the American wilderness.

De Niro plays Ben Ford, a now-retired soldier who back in the day was part of a peacekeeping force during the Yugoslavian crisis.

Pre-credits, Ford is shown supposedly gunning down Travolta’s Emil Kovac in cold blood, execution style, after finding Kovac and his Serbian goons running a Nazi-esque concentration camp (complete with rotting corpses stacked in train carriages).

Wouldn’t you know though, Kovac does not actually die, instead hiring investigators years later to track down Ford (who has now retired to an isolated log cabin) so that he can travel to the States and gain his revenge.

And that is it as far as plot goes with, aside from a laboured sub-plot involving Ford’s son Chris (Milo Ventimiglia) and his newborn son, the film’s entire running time taken up with plenty of chat and chase from the two heavyweights.

So what exactly goes wrong?

Well, Travolta for starters, with the actor showcasing one of the worst beard/ludicrous accent combos ever to make it on screen.

You just cannot take anything he does seriously, which is a huge stumbling block for a film that quite clearly takes itself oh-so seriously.

If the film was aiming for a Swordfish/Face-Off campness then fine – but it most definitely isn’t.

De Niro on the other hand pretty much drifts through his part, although he is expected to go through a lot of physical stuff considering his years.

The action sequences are actually not that bad (gaining an extra star), although they are lost amid a sea of clichés that any seasoned viewer will spot a mile off.

And, to top the whole package off, director Mark Steven Johnson then decides to round things off with a saccharine-sweet ending that really slaps you round the face and renders the whole thing almost pointless.

I’ve defended Johnson in the past, having fended off many a naysayer for his handling of Daredevil back in the day.

But there is little I can do with Killing Season, and if the film going straight-to-DVD means less people actually see it, then all the better.

 

VERDICT: [rating=2]

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.