Kill Shot (2023)

Rating: **
Review Date: 8/27/23
Cast: Rachel Cook, Rib Hillis, Bobby Maximus, Mara Ohara, Xian Mikol

Never trust a pretty face. Especially if she's featured prominently on the box cover and isn't the main character.

Jackson Hardison (Rib Hillis) is a wilderness guide and former Navy SEAL whose marriage is on the rocks because he's emotionally distant and never at home. He's hired for an elk hunt by the devastatingly pretty Kate (Rachel Cook) and they stumble across a briefcase full of stolen cash from a plane that went down near the Canadian border. Naturally, a bunch of unsavory characters packing a lot of firepower come looking for the money, and soon the hunters become the hunted. Fortunately, Jackson's wilderness experience and superior military skills prove to be no match for the bad guys, but they aren't enough to save him from Kate.

The first thing you notice about the film is the gorgeous scenery, which was shot in Montana. It really is a good-looking production, and it's unfortunate that the acting, dialog, and action are so lacking. The pacing is also challenging, and the first hour is a real chore to sit through. The film is clearly a vanity project for Rib Hillis, who also wrote and produced it, and while he does a respectable job with the material, he's overburdened with carrying nearly all of the story's dramatic weight. Rachel Cook is stunning, but her role has little depth and her delivery tends to be a bit flat. Her character is pure poison and it's immediately apparent that she's up to no good and using Jackson as an unwitting pawn. She also looks great running around in her underwear, although I found those scenes so laughably cringy and gratuitous that I just couldn't take them seriously. And would it hurt to button her shirt just a little higher so that her boobs aren't constantly falling out? Sadly, her action scenes are terrible, which is on par with the rest of the action in the movie. It feels a bit like "The A-Team," where there are a lot of bullets fired into empty space, but it's not clear what's being shot at and no one seems to hit anything. It doesn't make a lot of sense and there's no rhythm, logic, or flow to what's going on. Even with former UFC fighter Bobby Maximus as a bad guy, the martial arts action is dreadful and not even worth going into.

Not surprisingly, the writing is poor and I never could figure out where the money came from and who the bad guys actually were. I suppose in the end it doesn't matter - they're just a bunch of mercenaries hired to recover a briefcase full of cash and kill anyone who interferes. While I appreciated the film's cynicism and unapologetically bleak ending, it comes with a constant undercurrent of misogyny that runs throughout the story. I could have identified with that a lot easier back in my 20s, but I'm more sensitive to it now and I found the sexist attitudes a bit distasteful. Overall, I went in with low expectations and it lived up to them. The film is ultimately as mindless as its title, and while the leads are attractive and the scenery is beautiful, I can't recommend it unless you're a fan of Ms. Cook and her underwear.