review by Bobby Blakey
I am a big fan of director Steven C. Miller whose Silent Night and The Aggression Scale took horror and action to a fun new level. At this point when I see him attached to a project I am instantly interested and his latest First Kill starring Hayden Christensen and Bruce Willis looked to be something a bit different. Can he be bringing something new to the thriller genre or will this be fail to find redemption?
First Kill follows successful Wall Street broker Will who takes his family on a vacation to the cabin where he grew up in an attempt to reconnect with his son Danny. While Will and Danny are hunting, their trip takes a deadly turn when they witness the murder of a crooked police officer as a bank robbery goes awry. When Danny is taken hostage by the criminals, Will is forced to help them evade the police chief investigating the murder and recover the stolen money in exchange for his son's life. Being a Star Wars fan of course I was interested to see how Christensen handled a role like this and I was pleasantly surprised. He struggled a bit when he was a younger actor, but his last few projects I have seen him, including this one has showcased a much more mature seasoned performance. He is good here showcasing the concern for his family as well as a simple range of emotion needed to make this story work.
Willis has been churning out the straight to home release films lately and more often than not seems to be phoning it in. While he does have a much bigger part than a lot of the cameos he has been doing lately he still didn’t feel like the Bruce we know and love. There were moments where he delivered and others that felt like he was just ready to move on. The rest of the cast do a decent job at bringing this thriller work. The story is pretty simple and not anything we haven’t seen before, but I applaud the attempt to add something new with the relationship between the kidnapper and Danny. This adds a new dynamic to the stereotypical story making it feel like something a bit different.
There isn’t a ton of action here as it is more of a thriller, but it all comes together nicely even if it is a bit predictable. Miller has a great eye for storytelling and his structure here took what would have been a throwaway movie and made it something better. This film isn’t going to be blowing anyone away or breaking new ground in the genre, but it is worth checking out for what it is. I am glad to see Miller working with so many great actors and doing new things. His next project has him behind the camera of Escape Plan 2 with Stallone, but until it is unleashed check out First Kill when it hits Blu-ray and DVD on September 5th from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.