The Kill List is totally brilliant - and absolute rubbish. More specifically, the first 66% of the movie is fantastic - sharply written, wonderfully acted, supremely directed, and filled with tension and realism.
And then it all goes wrong.
Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump start by crafting a stunning examination of the family life of a suburban hit-man that makes The Sopranos look glitzy. Neil Maskell is unnerving as Jay, whose long hiatus from 'work' has led to constant fighting with his wife. Their son witnesses the discord, and the tension and humanity is palpable.
Wheatley layers the non-action with skill, and really knows how to ratchet up the intrigue. The three main characters are all very good, and even the smaller roles of the son and girlfriend are well played and brilliantly written. You get the feeling you are watching something very special unfold on screen, with no indication of how it will all be resolved. I am a hardened end-guesser and am often right, but with this movie I had no idea where it was going, which is exciting and rare.
We're watching something that, to tell the truth, isn't the most interesting thing in the world, yet the writing and the directing make it totally engrossing and uncomfortable to watch. It's clever because it keeps you intrigued throughout.
For the first two parts of the three act structure - which it follows intensely, so much so that it's almost 3 completely different films put together - it's a very accomplished film. A film that makes you want to see the ending due to all the hinting that this is not what it seems, yet when I got to the end I felt completely underwhelmed. This is definitely a case of writers not knowing how to finish a very clever concept and it's incredibly disappointing.
I think finding a genre proved tough for this film. Like I said above, the three acts were all different. The first two acts were drama and crime respectively and then the ending dipped into horror which stuck out like a sore thumb and didn't fit in with the piece.
If Wheatley and Smart could just complete the ending this would have been a masterpiece in British film making. It had it all for two out of three parts. Fantastic acting, brilliant and unnerving cinematography and a very interesting, social-realistic concept that kept me going throughout.