Blu-ray Review: Killing Gunther

By , Contributor
Mockumentary Killing Gunther finds first-time writer-director Taran Killam starring as Blake, a grandiose hitman seeking greater professional recognition. He assembles a team of other hitmen (and women) to help him locate and eliminate elusive hitman extraordinaire Gunther. To document the search, Blake hires a film crew to follow his every move.

Since it's a central part of the film's marketing, there's no worry of spoiling the actor portraying the titular character. It's Arnold Schwarzenegger. That's why I wanted to see the movie and I suspect it's what will catch the eye of most curious renters/buyers/streamers. As part of the generation who grew up idolizing Schwarzenegger, I'm game to watch just about anything he's in. A lot of it his post-political career work has been uninspired. But recently he's turned in some credible dramatic turns in films like Maggie and (especially) Aftermath. Still waiting for a major comeback.

Killam was funny during his run on Saturday Night Live, so he commands a certain share of fans too. It doesn't hurt that his wife Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill in the Marvel movies) drops in as a supporting player. While Killam does get an appealingly off the wall comic turn out of Schwarzenegger, the former Governator doesn't show up until the last 30 minutes (which I why I prefaced revealing his casting by saying it's not really a spoiler—it's Arnold's face on the cover—though Gunther's identity is certainly presented as a narrative mysterious up until that point).

So that first hour as Blake and his team (including Killam's SNL album Bobby Moynihan) follow various dead-ends is a real slog. Everyone overplays the whole "reality show"/"documentary" angle, mugging relentlessly, and very little of it is funny. It's a lot of work watching Blake finally track down Gunther, who turns out to be quite a master of disguise. File this one under "Arnold Fanatics Only."

Lionsgate's Blu-ray edition includes a few bloopers and a couple of deleted scenes. Despite Schwarzenegger's willingness to go for broke in order to make Gunther an amusing oddball, Killing Gunther is ultimately a sad display of squandered talent.
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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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