The Kill Room

Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

The Kill Room
dir Nicol Paone
scr Jonathan Jacobson
prd Uma Thurman, Bill Kenwright, Dannielle Thomas, Jason Weinberg, William Rosenfeld, Anne Clements
with Uma Thurman, Joe Manganiello, Samuel L Jackson, Maya Hawke, Debi Mazar, Dree Hemingway, Amy Keum, Larry Pine, Candy Buckley, Tom Pecinka, Jennifer Kim, Matthew Maher
release US 29.Sep.23
23/US 1h38

jackson hawke mazar

Is it streaming?

thurman and manganiello
With a goofy vibe, this crime comedy allows an ace cast opportunities to chew on the scenery. Ostensibly an art scene satire, the movie playful explores the nature of subjective opinion, as something that specifically created as trash becomes a valuable commodity. It's a bit odd that director Nicol Paone keeps things so breezy even as the story takes grisly and over-plotted turns. But it's an entertaining romp.
Looking for a money-laundering scheme, baker-gangster Gordon (Jackson) strikes a deal with struggling New York gallery owner Patrice (Thurman) to create and sell fake artwork. Gordon asks his loyal hitman Reggie (Manganiello) to paint something. Despite Patrice's attempt to keep this secret, her assistant Leslie (Keum) alerts collectors, who become obsessed by this mysterious artist, so demand rises exponentially. Working under the name The Bagman, Reggie begins to show some genuine artistic talent. Which is a problem because Gordon's big boss (Pecinka) doesn't like the attention. So Patrice comes up with a rather outrageous plan.
While the plot's wackier touches feel more than a little strained, the film remains engaging thanks to the interaction between these fairly ridiculous characters, especially as an offbeat spark of interest develops between Patrice and Reggie. Although it never quite boils over into romance. Some characters are overtly comical, such as Leslie and a pompous art critic who calls herself The Kimono (Mazar). And there are also a few thuggish mobsters (led by Pecinka) on hand to push the thriller side of the story and generate a whiff of suspense leading to a heist-style climax.

These superb actors are able to take deliberately cartoonish characters and layer something far more interesting underneath. Thurman may play it broadly, but she adds a nice edge to Patrice that echoes in terrific chemistry with Jackson's swaggering, impulsive boss and Manganiello's soulful killer. These three keep the film buoyant, and they're surrounded by a wide range of expert scene-stealers in small side roles, although those playing fellow artists (including Hawke and Hemingway) feel underused.

Jacobson's script only gently pokes fun at the art world, instead focussing on how true creative work can come from the most unlikely people. Even more intriguing is the idea that Reggie never had a chance to develop his talents until this fluke of a situation. These undercurrents help carry the audience through the rather clumsy plotting in the final act. And the way collectors are so afraid to be left behind is sharply pointed.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 21.Sep.23

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S

send your review to Shadows... The Kill Room Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.

© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall