Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Starring: Robert De Niro, John Travolta, Milo Ventimiglia, Elizabeth Olin
Revenge is a dish served very cold indeed in this mediocre chase thriller, which is noteworthy for being the first-ever screen pairing of the Hollywood heavyweights Robert De Niro and John Travolta, but not much else. De Niro gives a scowlingly serious performance as Benjamin Ford, a US military veteran now living in isolation in a remote woodland cabin. Travolta plays Emil Kovac, a former Serbian soldier still nursing a lethal grudge after clashing with Ford during the Balkan wars of the early 1990s. An initially friendly reunion soon turns violent as these two psychologically scarred warriors stalk each other like prey.
In fairness, the experienced action director Mark Steven Johnson delivers some tense scenes of graphic torture and nail-biting pursuit. But the plot and setting inevitably invite unflattering comparisons with similar but superior anti-war thrillers, specifically The Deer Hunter and First Blood. Evan Daugherty's script was originally set in the 1970s and featured a former Nazi battling an American second world war veteran.
The new Balkan subplot is almost incidental, however, since Killing Season aspires to make a serious statement about war in general. Sadly, it is compromised by its plodding pace and heavy-handed pomposity, and rendered into unintended comedy by Travolta's preposterous Borat-style accent.
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