Jen Kornfeldt just got dumped by her boyfriend, and it's partly because Jen isn't adventurous enough for his taste, too cautious, too fuddy-duddy. She and her very judgmental parents (Catherine O'Hara, Tom Selleck) go holidaying in the south of France, partly to assuage Jen's heartache. In Nice, Jen bumps into Spencer, this charming hunk of a guy. Sparks fly. Whirlwind romance. Swift wedding. The whole mushy works.
Spencer isn't the straight arrow guy Jen thinks he is. Spencer is, instead, a highly skilled government-sanctioned hit man. Except that when Spencer meets Jen, he really does fall in love with her. Wanting a crack at normalcy, he gives up the assassin's life, in spite of ominous threats issued by his handler.
Three years later, basking in marital bliss, living in suburban paradise, Spencer learns that the agency hasn't forgotten him. KILLERS then tells of Spencer and Jen's very long day, rife with domestic disputes, career obligations, parental interference... and lots of frantically dodging hordes of hit men. I guess, for a twenty million dollar bounty, I'd take a shot at Spencer myself. For Spencer, that assassins are coming out of the woodwork all wetworksy pales to insignificance when compared to just how the hell is he going to explain all this to Jen without getting the cold freeze? Or that's the tone the film achieves, anyway.
KILLERS tries for a bit of that ROMANCING THE STONE magic, comes off as a lightweight incarnation of MR. & MRS. SMITH. That this vehicle is found wanting isn't the actors' fault, not really. Three of the four core performers are really good, even Ashton Kutcher who's going for his first action role. Katherine Heigl is still very much in her element, even with the film's tone tottering between romantic comedy and espionage thriller. Heigl is expert and very appealing at playing the naturally sexy girl stricken with a palpable touch of insecurity and dorkiness. This comes into play early in the film, and it's too bad that Heigl seems to lose that sense of vulnerability as the story progresses. Her killer chemistry with Kutcher fuels the narrative. It's certainly not the unsnappy dialogue.
Catherine O'Hara and Tom Selleck are those parents who are absolutely nightmarish to meet for any prospective boyfriend. O'Hara does her usual over-the-top schtick but it's offset by Selleck's wonderfully deadpan performance. Selleck is perfect for the disapproving fatherly part, and he intimidatingly looms over Kutcher (I'm a bit biased about Tom Selleck; he's a favorite actor).
I guess, SPOILERS for this next paragraph:
I'm a laid back "critic," so ultimately, I find enough to like about the movie to marginally recommend it. Mostly it's because I like the cast and the always catchy premise. Maybe the best permutation of this premise is TRUE LIES or maybe GROSSE POINTE BLANK, although I'm also very partial to MR. & MRS. SMITH and PRIZZI'S HONOR. In a nutshell, KILLERS looks gorgeous and feels shallow. The screenplay is bland and cliched. The action bits don't exactly get me off my seat. Several plot points felt off. For one thing, I didn't like that there's this underlying ugliness regarding the who and why of the person responsible for putting the hit on Spencer. But maybe my biggest beef is the shedding of whatever element of surprise there is in the movie. At that point, that sense of believability, already compromised, also gives up the ghost. It makes some sense, I suppose, that Spencer's neighbors would comprise some of the bounty hunters - but every friggin' one of them? (Okay, I guess the fence lady isn't a contract killer, she's just really annoying.) The very first attempt at Spencer is startling and effective because you don't expect it, because it isn't telegraphed. But the hits after that, and the fact that it turns out every damn neighbor introduced earlier is gunning for him... Man, the sheer repetitiveness of it is brutal. The doses of sturm und drang - dreary and uninspired - tend to drag down the film. Sturm und drag. But, erm, yeah, I'm still recommending it.