Killing Gunther tries to be a satirical comedy in a mockumentary style, but it lacks the smarts to pull it off effectively. Don’t be fooled by Arnold Schwarzenegger being included on the cast list and poster, his role is very minimal. In fact, he only appears during the last 30 minutes of the film and unfortunately, even his appearance cannot save this disaster of a film.
Killing Gunther follows a group of oddball assassins who are tired of an assassin only known as Gunther who is stealing all their kills and generally making them look bad. So they group together to devise a strategy to kill off this infamous hitman. Unfortunately, their plans go awry as Gunther always seems one step ahead of them at all times.
Killing Gunther does have some amusing moments but they are few and far between. A lot of humour is very stale and predictable and does not land how they would expect. For example, the hitman who works with poisons only. They make a running gag about how he is mostly useless, it is slightly amusing at first but they don’t do anything with it that is remotely creative so it is the same joke being repeated over and over again. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only character that this same approach is repeated with, though this is the most garish example.
The rest of the film however also takes the same format. Each time, the team of assassins tries to take out Gunther and it goes wrong often resulting in the death of one of their crew. Now, this is something that can be done to great effect, but again it feels like we are watching the same scene over and over again just with a different location. The deaths do try to take a comedic tone, but it lacks subtlety. Like with a lot of the dialogue and events in Killing Gunther, you can see it happening all before it does. This is because they make a rather big point of showing the assassins individual gimmicks in the opening scenes, so rather than being a surprise, you are just waiting for it to happen.
All of this makes the first hour of Killing Gunther almost a Sisyphean task to endure. I did not watch the trailer, but even so, I could see that they were making a big point of Schwarzenegger’s involvement in this film. But like I said, he only turns up at the very end, so you spend a lot of your time waiting for his eventual appearance, which along with other things does not help the pacing of this film. It does pick up a bit when Schwarzenegger does make his entrance, as he seems to be able to feed new life into this film even with its tired dialogue, as he is able to do more with it. But for most viewers, this is definitely going to be far too late to make much of an impact.
You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that Schwarzenegger’s involvement in this was just a draw in his fans that otherwise who not have seen Killing Gunther. It does very much feel like a cheap tactic to get viewers and I sense that perhaps this was more of a money-making deal for Schwarzenegger than something that he put his heart and soul into. Perhaps if they had more money in their budget to have more screen time with him, he could have made this film more enjoyable.
But it would be a hard job for even Schwarzenegger I believe. In a director’s hands that are more experienced, this storyline could be something that would be loved by fans such as Mayhem. Taran Killam has acted in a lot of TV series, so perhaps he should have tried his hand at shorter stuff first as Killing Gunther did feel like a story that was dragged out longer than it needed to be.
There is also the fact that they try to make it a mockumentary, which causes this weird rift where you are half expecting to be serious at times, but the characters are mostly ridiculous which makes it a bit lopsided viewing. Add to that, Killiam does not attempt to give any of the characters any backstory, so you feel like you are watching walking stereotypes and clichés. That might have been fine in years past, but with everything in the film world improving in leaps and bounds, a lot of audiences expect way more from filmmakers.
The only saving grace I can say about this film is that it does not elicit any reaction other than boredom. Unlike films like Guns Akimbo, which make me groan with mild hate, or The Hunt with his kick-ass electric kills, Killing Gunther is so devoid of any impactful story or dialogue, that I doubt I will remember that I have watched this in years to come.
Killing Gunther is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.