Killing Field – Survive the Game (2021)
Directed by: James Cullen Bressack | 97 minutes | action, thriller | Actors: Chad Michael Murray, Bruce Willis, Swen Temmel, Michael Sirow, Kate Katzman, Zack Ward, Simon Phillips, Sean Kanan, Adam Huel Potter, Donna D’Errico, Jose S. Vázquez, Kristos Andrews, Ronal Tejada, Jonathan González, Ramon Vázquez, Yulia Klass, Felix Cortes, Canyon Prince, Daniel Salinas González, Sarah Roemer, James Cullen Bressack
‘Killing Field’ (aka ‘Survive the Game’, which is just such a meaningless title) is an action movie with Bruce Willis on autopilot and Quentin Tarantino influences. It is not entirely clear what exactly is going on with the career of the still beloved Hollywood star – who only appears in B-movies from ’10 Minutes Gone’ (2019) onwards. It is claimed that he is struggling with his (mental) health, but this has not yet been officially confirmed.
David (Willis) and Cal (Swen Temmel) are two police officers who have been chasing a drug gang for years. Now that they can finally catch the criminals in the act, they go for it. However, things go wrong: David is hit in the stomach and Cal – after some hesitation, because he does not want to abandon his partner who is bleeding to death – goes after the criminal duo. The film is less than ten minutes away and dozens of bullets have already been fired… only hitting one target. Then you know what time it is.
Cal follows the criminal duo (a sort of ‘Natural Born Killers’-esque couple, the female half of which is clearly inspired by Harley Quinn’s clothing) to a remote farmhouse, which we also now own the owner, Eric (Chad Michael Murray) get to know. Eric lost his wife and daughter in a car accident two weeks ago and life doesn’t make much sense to him anymore. Coincidentally, he’s a war veteran, so he knows how to wield a gun.
Drug traffickers Violet and Mickey Jean (Kate Katzman and Zack Ward) don’t excel on the intelligent side, but we have to believe that they are madly in love with each other (how many times the phrase “You and me against the world, baby” by one of them is uttered – you quickly lose count). Then Boss Frank (Michael Sirow) steps in, he has David captive – “hurrah, my partner isn’t dead,” Cal realizes in surprise – and comes to Eric’s farm with the rest of the gang. Frank isn’t exactly amused when he finds that Mickey and Violet have let both Cal and Eric escape and the goal is to take them out as quickly as possible while holding David at gunpoint.
‘Killing Field’ is a tedious cat-and-mouse game that never gets exciting. A can of bad guys is opened that you say to yourself. It’s three against legion. Although each of these gang members has a unique appearance, so that we can easily tell them apart, there is no elaboration of character traits. Oh, there’s one who tells Frank he’s “hurtted” by the insult thrown at him and then recommends yoga or decaf to his boss so he sleeps better. That in itself is still surprising. An effort is also made to kill the villain in an original way and the location where some of these murders take place – an overgrown nursery – is nicely chosen. ‘Killing Field’ is set in a tropical, very green environment (the film was shot in Puerto Rico) and that occasionally produces some nice pictures. The choice of music isn’t very consistent: the first track makes you think, “See, the director is a QT fan,” the rest of the soundtrack would also easily fit the Fast & Furious franchise.
However, Bruce Willis fans don’t get much for their money: their favorite is almost continuously strapped to a chair. That wouldn’t have been such a problem if the witty one-liners the screenplay throws at him would be, but that’s not the case. Only at the end (spoiler alert: David manages to free himself) does he get something to do. If you’re not so much interested in Bruce, but if you want to see a nice and stupid action film, then you might enjoy this film a bit more, but this interchangeable production suffers a lot from the mediocre acting, the meager plot and the poorly written dialogues. Kudos to the creator of the title sequence, who honestly suggests that we’re going to see a much better film than ‘Killing Field’ actually is.