Every once in a while I get introduced to something that completely and utterly confuses me as to what the fuck I am actually watching. Like Deal or No Deal style game shows where the contestant wins money without any sort of skill. If it were up to me, to get that £250’000 the contestant would need to have suffered some sort of emotional and psychological trauma that the money would be needed for therapy afterwards.
...and for the cuddly toy, you have to fight a REAL LIVE PANDA!
Anyway, Kill List is one of those things, but that actually works in its favour. I think…
The film follows Jay, an ex-soldier turned hit man with a middle class family life that is slowly unravelling due to him being out of work for the last 8 months. His previous assignment had gone horribly wrong and it’s still dogging him. However, home pressures and a visit from his friend and partner, Gal, lead him to take on another job - an easy job with plenty of money. Of course, nothing is quite as it seems.
So far, sounds like your fairly average film. After hearing a bit about the hype and not reading too much, I was very unsure of what to actually expect, but figured it was going to be one of those usual British crime films about angry men who go around killing people and being all cheeky-like á la Guy Ritchie. In most instances I’d be right, but I was actually wrong on this one, and when I say wrong, I mean REALLY wrong. I mean wrong in the sense of someone eating dog shit and thinking “now why did I think that would taste like chocolate?” Just because it’s the same colour as chocolate doesn’t mean it actually is.
Chocolate, or shit? What do you think?
OK, so maybe there was SOME chocolate mixed in with the shit, because some of the dialogue actually was a bit cheeky-chappy ‘ave a laugh like (my favourite line being “we’re going to do this properly, not just mow him down like some Hackney crackhead”), but the interaction between the characters feels a boatload more natural than that of the typical British crime film. With an absolutely fantastic script, and additional dialogue contributed by the actors themselves, conversation flows a lot more naturally and it feels more real.
But the greatness in the script comes not just from the dialogue, but the structure as well. It takes the standard 3 act story structure and still adheres to it, but as well as your standard turning points in the story it also shifts genres. Which serves to disorientate you and build up your expectations so the final act completely throws you off balance before the closing moments of the film that really deliver that finishing blow.
Yeah...pretty much that really.
Which leads me to my final point and a possible reasoning as to why I’m really unsure about what I think of this film. It does have quite a few flaws, but it’s an absolutely wonderful piece of filmmaking, with dread, menace and tension submersed under the skin of every character and permeates out through their interactions as well as the films construct. It has a great script that offers a very daring and different kind of film and deserves the praise it gets. But above all else, it’s an examination of our relation to violence. There are some scenes that are quite brutal, and they only get more brutal as the film progresses. But they payoff they lead to is more of a punishment for our want (and by the end of the film, Jay’s want) of this cathartic release. It’s somewhat unsatisfying, but it is clearly the film that Ben Wheatley, the director, wanted to make. It’s almost like he wanted the ending to completely throw you out of the door like a violent drunk at a bar. You want to start trouble? Well you can fuck off out of here then.
And after that, you just stumble home, confused and unsure of what the hell is going on.
I'm pretty sure he just drunkenly stumbled into the Whitehouse after hitting the real George Bush with his car...