Saturday, November 13, 2021

Movie Reviews: Kill Me Again

Kill Me Again
directed by John Dahl
In the late eighties early nineties there was a brief revival of noir movies. Some of these films were just unapologetic vehicles for bosomy actresses such as Shannon Whirry or Shannon Tweed to strut their stuff. Nothing wrong with that. 
Other neo-noir films had more serious artistic intentions though they still usually had a sexy femme fatale. It's unusual, though certainly not impossible, for a good film noir to get by without a femme fatale. 
Films of that era like Blood Simple, One False Move, Devil In A Blue Dress, and Dahl's later film Red Rock West among others, all updated the noir style for the modern era while still honoring tradition.
Kill Me Again is a 1989 neo-noir film that falls somewhere in the middle of the pack as far as quality and pacing. The acting was adequate but I felt that something was occasionally a little off. 
I didn't completely disappear into the film the way that I will for a truly great movie. 
This was a movie that could have used an extra ten or fifteen minutes running time in order to flesh out its characters, both lead and supporting, a little more. 
Without strong and occasionally sympathetic character motivations, a noir drama can just become a tedious soap opera or a shoot em up action flick. 
Again, nothing wrong with that if that's what you're looking for.
Jack Andrews (Val Kilmer) is a Vegas area private investigator who is of course down on his luck. Business is bad. He's having trouble making payroll even though he only has one employee. 
Worse, in order to make rent and payroll and gamble, Jack has borrowed money from the local Mob affiliate. The mobsters want their money back. Or so they say. The mobsters tasked with retrieving payment from Jack seem as if they would be much happier hurting or killing Jack. They appear annoyed on the occasions when Jack can pay them. 
On top of his business problems Jack is lonely and depressed. He hasn't recovered from surviving a car accident that killed his wife. Jack is in desperate need of money and a woman's touch. So Jack is somewhat easy pickings for the va-va voom mystery woman Faye Forrester (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, Kilmer's then wife) who shows up with a lot of money and a strange proposition for the private detective. 

Faye claims that she's fleeing an abusive ex. Faye will pay Jack $10,000 to fake her death. And she might give him a non-cash bonus worth more than that.
Faye is a flirtatious sexy woman. 
No dummy, Jack knows that Faye is not telling him everything about her past or her motivations. But Jack is vulnerable. Against his buddy's advice, Jack decides to accept Faye's offer. Jack's life takes a decided turn for the worse.
The viewer already knows that Faye is well, less than truthful, thanks to the opening scene. A man named Vince Miller (Michael Madsen in full brutal alpha-male effect) is looking for Faye, though not necessarily for the reasons Faye said. Although Madsen is, as always, convincing as a violent lunatic, I thought as mentioned above that it would have been worth a few extra minutes explaining his backstory. 
There are some story elements that make little sense when you think about them so you probably shouldn't do that. The Kilmers have chemistry together. Joanne Whalley-Kilmer seems to be having a blast. It's easy to understand how she gets under a man's skin. Val Kilmer likely could have emoted a bit more. His character is supposed to be emotionally damaged but there's room between that and lobotomized. Still, this film was an okay weekend afternoon/late night movie. There's not much explicit violence by today's standards.
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