I love Arnie. Yes I said it, I do, I love him and I don’t care who knows it!
This love I have has been a long one ignited when I first saw Conan the Barbarian in the 80’s fanned by Terminator, Commando, Running Man and transformed into a powerful pyre by the one and only Predator all during the same decade. It stayed bright and brilliant in the 90’s with T2, True Lies and Twins but by the Last Action Hero and End of Days I worried the titles where a fortuitous forecast for Arnold’s career.
The flame didn’t die during the noughties even if the roles did but my hopes were reignited (along with many other 80’s icons livelihoods) by nostalgic action masterpiece The Expendables in 2010 bringing Schwarzenegger back where he belonged totting a gun and a pun like the days of old.
Since his resurgence his roles have been interesting if irregular with the gritty and somber zombie horror Maggie sitting alongside badly spelt franchise favorite but ultimate failure Terminator Genisys and the much more entertaining Escape Plan with Stallone.
The new Arnie thankfully is the same as the old Arnie but like Sly his continued success comes from a self-awareness that few actors of his age, stardom or success have gained. This has never been more evident than in Killing Gunther a faux documentary action comedy that trades on not only Schwarzenegger’s past roles but his willingness to lampoon himself.
The set-up is simple; Blake (played by writer and director Taran Killam) is an assassin who dreams of being the best, the only problem is the existence of Gunther (Arnie obviously) the most famous hit man who ever killed. Blake’s answer to this human obstacle is to amass a team of death dealing experts to take out Gunther along with a film crew to document it thus securing his place at number one.
The crew of killers includes such action movie clichés as ineffectual explosives expert Donnie (Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan), insane Russian twins Barold (Ryan Gaul) and Mia (Allison Tolman) who are more concerned with sightseeing than slaying and New Girl’s Hannah Simone as Sanaa the daughter of a top assassin whose father follows her around cheering on every hit. Best of all is Aaron Yoo as Yong an elegant executioner who only uses poison and vomits at the sight of blood even his own.
With many more added in the crazy characters keep things entertaining and interesting as the group desperately attempts to lure out the allusive Gunther and trap him, failing on every front and loosing many members along the way.
Dipping its toe into a more serious side with a subplot regarding Blake’s ex played by Avenger’s star Cobie Smulders luckily it never strays too far from a joke or a jolt of action to lose its way.
Well directed the mockumentary hook helps identify with Blake and his hapless band and the hand held camera is used well especially in the larger scale set pieces of which there are several. Bullets fly, cars crash and explosions explode most amusingly in one scene where they plant a bomb on Gunther’s vehicle only to have every other car in the street blow up except his.
Cleverly holding off Gunther appearance till over an hour in when Arnie finally does arrive he does not disappoint. Obviously enjoying himself he laughs his way through the final act dropping bodies and classic quotes from his back catalogue all building to a full on face-off with Blake and a great final fight.
Brilliantly blending big action set pieces with hilarious comedic moments Killing Gunther works in every way especially if you are a fan of classic action movies, dark humor and slapstick gore. More importantly it proves that Arnie has still got it and that when he said “I’ll be back” he really meant it.
Killing Gunther will be available to watch on Digital Download from 2nd April