Kill Shot (2023) Review
As Kill Shot opens a young Afghan girl walks through a drug processing facility and is handed a briefcase full of cash by an old man. She then trudges through the snow in what feels like real-time until she comes to an armoured truck manned by a couple of heavily armed men in camo. They take the cash and drive off.
After it drives around for a bit the truck encounters a woman, Dina Diablo (Mara Ohara, The Hellenbacks 3), who pulls a flamethrower from under her burka. When the men inside jump out and start firing at her they’re ambushed by Maximus (UFC fighter Bobby Maximus) and his men who kill them, take the cash, and make plans to rendezvous in Canada.
Among the footage we see under the credits, there’s a shot of a small plane crashing in the forest. Guess what didn’t make it to Canada?
Director Ari Novak (Cowboys vs Dinosaurs, Assassin’s Vow) co-wrote the script with the film’s star Rib, no that’s not a typo, Hillis (Psycho Storm Chaser, Swim), and they went hard on the cliches starting with the “fortune lost in the woods” trope.
After the credits, we meet Jackson (Rib Hillis) whose ice climbing and having thoughts of his daughter, whose death we will learn caused his marriage to fall apart. When his phone rings he answers it, one hand on the phone one on an ice axe, and tells the caller he’s just hanging around. He then goes home to find his wife with another man, and when he him she hits him with, you guessed it, a frying pan.
Eventually, Jackson, who’s a Navy SEAL turned hunting guide, ends up in the woods with Kate (Rachel Cook, The Hack Job) who plans to scatter her father’s ashes and shoot an elk. Instead, they find the briefcase and the $100 million it contains, which does not sit well with Maximus, Diablo, and their team of hired guns.
Unfortunately, before we get to any actual action, Novak and Hillis make us sit through nearly endless scenes of characters wandering around in the woods. The film cuts back and forth between our two leads talking about hunting, anonymous mercs stalking around, and the occasional stock footage of elk and bears. Finally, around the halfway mark, someone remembered Kill Shot was supposed to be an action film and the briefcase shows up.
Kill Shot does get better in the final act as suddenly we have bad guys on foot, on dirt bikes, and even creeping around in ghillie suits. They also put some effort into finding ways to keep Kate half-dressed while they’re trying to escape, though that effort might have been better used trying to make the first half of the film less tedious.
There are a couple of decent fights, most notably the one between Hillis and Maximus but the gunfights frequently leave something to be desired. They’re frequently badly shot, for instance, failing to hide the fact the flamethrower can’t reach the truck. Or poorly edited so that it appears that everyone is shooting in random directions rather than at each other and muzzle flashes sometimes appear and disappear seemingly at random from shot to shot.
But Kill Shot’s biggest problem is how predictable most of it is. The last and post-credits scenes may catch some people off guard but they’re about the only ones that will. In fact, the biggest surprise I got from the film was that it originally had an even more generic title, Hunted when it was filmed in 2020. Combined with the terrible pacing, shots are held way too long for no reason making chase scenes feel stagnant rather than tense or exciting, the film’s most notable kill shot is a self-inflicted one.
Well Go USA will release Kill Shot on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Platforms on August 15th.