Director: Taran Killam
Cast: Taran Killam, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bobby Moynihan, Hannah Simone, Allison Tolman
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When is an Arnie film not an Arnie film? Killing Gunther is a film that seems designed to answer that very question, as Arnold Schwarzenegger is placed front and centre as the movie’s key selling point – and then promptly kept hidden for most of it. The Governator, Terminator and Trump-taunter, he’s rarely been seen having more fun than in this action-comedy, which, after all these years, is saying something.
He plays the eponymous Gunther, a legendary hitman who has never been caught or beat. And so when assassin Blake (Taran Killam) decides to become the greatest gun for hire out there, he decides he has to one thing to seal his claim to fame: kill Gunther. To do it, he hires a crew of misfit killers, each one as eccentric and incompetent as the last.
It’s a SNL-influenced line-up, with veteran of the show Killam joined by Bobby Moynhiman as Donald, a fisherman hoping earn the nickname “Boom” for his explosives hobby, Hannah Simone as Sanaa, a sniper whose biggest threat is her over-protective father, Aaron Yoo as a poison specialist with a distaste for actual fighting, Ryan Gaul and Alison Tolman as a pair of ill-tempered Russian siblings, and Amir Talai as Izzat, who has a robotic arm. There’s some fun to be had in their chaotic mission, particularly one hotel corridor sequence that sees Sanaa’s father off the leash, or a fight that ends with Izzat using his arm as a defibrillator. Accompanied by a crew of handheld cameras, the mockumentary-style presentation isn’t as original as it wants to be, and lends to the vaguely bitty feel of what is, essentially, a string of assassin-themed vignettes.
The performances, though, are all unrelentingly enthusiastic, which carries things along amiably enough. But no one is more enthusiastic than old Arnie, who appears in the final act and more than justifies the waiting time. Practically flipping the film on its head, he turns the whole thing into an Arnie film after all, clearly enjoying the chance to dial down the action in favour of showing off his comic timing. While the majority of this movie plays like a sketch stretched out a little too far, the skit that features Arnie, complete with silly wigs and goofy costumes, is a hoot to see.