Killing Gunther (2017)
They're Out to Change the Killing Business
Comedy spree! Another surprise documentary-styled movie, I didn't realize this was the case in this one until I had actually started watching it. The last time a movie decided to shout "surprise! Found Footage!" I almost got sick, so hopefully this movie chronicling the misfit band of hit-folk against the actual skilled professional won't meet with such unpleasant results. I expect a laugh or two, I expect some explosions, and I expect that cover art Arnold. Let's see if it can live up to my pretty simple expectations without killing my enjoyment.
Let's address that found footage first and now. There is something about found footage that plenty of movies tend to do to make it "more realistic" or believable or whatever reason they feel it has to be in there a lot of times - excessive shakiness, and over-filming situations to pad out the run time. The first a lot of times is meant to evoke the sense of hand-held footage picking up every little jar in the photographers body and movements - which is thematically sound in logic, but generally unpleasant in viewing especially when overblown. The later tends to crop up to fill out a movie - for example, take the Paranormal Activity franchise, where a person will leave their recorders on over every mundane thing, like random conversations or eating dinner. It helps to provide more angles of the story - fleshing out characters or progressing plot, even fitting in more scares or whatever - but it can help to kill the immersion when the viewer starts to question "why is this even being recorded?" They have their uses, but over-reliance on these things just swings the enjoyment arm in the opposite intended direction.
Here, we get a shake or two when it's something necessary - for example a scene where camera crew and bungle team are running down an alley to escape a slew of explosions. It's not drastic, it's not over-enhanced, and it's not overly hectic in it's movements. It's just enough to make it seem to enhance the scene indirectly without showing the chaos of all the explosions. Alternatively, there's a great moment towards the end of the movie where stationary cameras are getting knocked around during a scuffle - again, we get to see the camera's viewpoint, but the bumps are kept simple and stylish instead of hard and disorienting. One camera manages to complete a full circle in a horizontal plane, but it's set up in a manner that you don't get lost as you are watching it, and even when a camera tumbles to the floor it's a nice smooth jaunt down instead of this "rocket that's lost control" simulator. That last particular scene I especially enjoyed for it's interesting use of the cameras in the format, which was just that much more easily enjoyable because of that smoothness and restraint.
As towards the other bit, this movie also does a relatively good job of keeping it's recordings sensible. Well, at least as sensible as hiring a documentary crew to follow you around as you try to assassinate the biggest hit man in the game can be considered sensible. There's even a scene in which we see our lead instruct them to not have that camera turned off again - although despite this the movie remembers that it is in fact a movie, and the presentation is still put together as an edited piece - complete to cuts to different characters as it deems necessary, although never breaking the illusion that there is only one camera person there. This helps solve that second part - sure, an extended victory scene of celebrating can feel drawn out and like padding, but it at least thematically makes sense within the movie, and the cuts and overall quality makes it feel so much more polished than the bog-standard, which could be argued by some that it cuts into the immersion - but it helps the enjoyment factor quite a bit otherwise if you ask me. It's also a nice touch to have the documentary team constantly asking if they are finally done and can go home - given the craziness they keep recording.
The other main aspect of this movie is the comedy. Ad nauseam, comedy is a very person to person basis - a fart will make me crack up, but somebody else won't be nearly as impressed. Here, the levels of humor weren't such that I was laughing much at all during the movie, although I was enjoying myself and recognizing distinct moments as jokes and fun. Moments of irony or ambush humor, running (quite literally) gags, and even some crude humor are found in here. Chances are that the comedy element of this will either be a love it or leave it situation for most, and although the movie is from a similar vein as What We Do In The Shadows I don't particularly feel that it's as witty as what was present there - be it due to it's subject matter or just the general writing, I'm not sure. Of course, it's loaded with Arnold one-liners, so there's something that I feel everyone should be able to enjoy.
Of course, that leads me to one of my expectations - Arnold. Truth be told, he is in a very small amount of this movie in any appreciable way - essentially only the end when it comes to dialogue related scenes. Before that it's all glimpses or off screen action - things that work great for the plot, but did leave me wondering how much he was actually even involved in this movie given how much the trailer I had seen pushed him being in it. Beyond that, most the roles are decently acted, and a lot of any complaints I'd have towards acting comes largely in the form of "it may be the way the character was intended to be." A prime example of this is our boss Persian hit woman - she comes off a lot of the early movie as quite wooden or blank, but it's incredibly conceivable that this was actually how her character is supposed to be, in turn meaning it's quite well acted. Arnold, when on screen, is enjoyable and flamboyant as always, and our actual main focus does a great job depicting the character as it was meant to be.
The last bit of my expectations relates to the effects department. Costumes here are decent - there's a few moments where things can shine as outside of the ordinary, like the robotic arm or one scene of "blending in." Largely, costumes are different enough to match some personalities and a little bit of stereotyping in a manner that we don't confuse any of our main players with each other. As far as things with more volume, explosions also look great. Largely involved in one scene, but coming up in multiple forms through out, you can't go wrong with a good blast of pyro. On the other hand, some of the generated effects don't fair as well - such as the CG squibs, which look about as convincing as in any other movie that's using computerized blood poppers (not so great). There's also a bit of debate to effects in a carnage scene towards the middle, where it could probably have looked better. It doesn't quite get to the point where it's terrible, but it could certainly have been better.
This one isn't a terrible movie, but it isn't exactly exceptional either. Many of the jokes seem rather familiar, and although amusing the comedy didn't quite hit with me in a manner that had me making audible my amusement. The idea is interesting enough to make you want to sit through it, and the acting is pretty good for the most part. It does some nice things for some found footage flair, but largely manages to not sink into the pit holes many movies that incorporate found footage do. I'd say definitely a rent before you buy movie, but a pretty alright little time killer regardless.