There was a time when any action movie Bruce Willis starred in was destined to be great. That was admittedly a long time ago, but that has not stopped him trying. First Kill is not exactly something that I would define as an action movie, but with Bruce Willis playing a cop amidst the kidnapping of a kid and a bank robbery gone bad, it certainly fits the mould of movies that he has made a name for himself with.

Based on this brief description above you can probably guess that this is not one of those movies that screams out “originality.” And just as you expect, pretty much everything about First Kill is about as generic as you can get. In genres such as this though where originality is hard to come by, this can often be forgiven if a film at least executes itself well. Thankfully with first Kill this is most certainly the case, though it comes with a caveat. One very big caveat.

Much of your enjoyment depends on whether you can handle the stupidity of Hayden Christensen’s lead character Will Beamon, which forces much of the events to unfold in the first place. I mean, bringing a man who has just been shot into your home instead of phoning the police which leads to the kidnapping of your son is a difficult moment of stupidity to follow on from. Not to mention the reason for taking his son out hunting in the first place cries out as a little backward thinking for someone who is supposed to be a smart Wall Street broker. A pity because the movie has enough strong moments to make it watchable.

This is not the only stupid moment in a movie that is filled with silly antics and predictable moments, but it certainly is the biggest breaker of them all and is a hard one to recover from. Hardly something which you can blame director Steven C Miller for though as he does a solid job in turning this turgid script by Nick Gordon into something remotely entertaining.

He does by ensuring that you connect with many of the film’s characters in a way that you can easily understand the film’s many different twists, while still been surprised by a few of them along the way. He also makes the chief antagonist in the film, Levi Barrett (Gethin Anthony) a very likable person whose chemistry with Beamon’s son Danny (Ty Shelton) is not only one of the film’s most endearing aspects, but actually makes you root for the bad guy and feeling for its different characters despite the often stupidity of their actions, is a remarkable achievement.

The film’s pacing is also pretty spot on in that it never allows tension to be too far from the film and despite their actually not being many moments of high action, suspense is always around the corner. In fact, much of the film’s production elements compliment the film well, even if there is nothing that stands out about them either.

From an acting perspective, you don’t expect something like this to blow you away and you get what you expect. It’s a little difficult for actors pull off much credibility when certain plot elements don’t quite add up, so you can be forgiven when they look a little sloppy or confused on screen, because they probably are.  As for Bruce Willis himself, there is nothing remarkable about his performance here, though his straight-laced and ambiguous good cop/bad cop persona leaves enough mystery in the character. Megan Leonard, Tyler Jon Olsen and Jesse Pruet round out the rest of the unremarkable cast.

At the end of the day, First Kill is just another bland and generic action thriller. It certainly tries hard to stand out from the crowd and at times almost succeeds, though can’t quite recover from the stupidity of its plot, leaving you feeling a little underwhelmed in the end. If you can switch your brain off for a while though you will be in for a decent enough ride.

Last Updated: January 30, 2018

First Kill (DVD)
A generic thriller that despite its best efforts just can't quite recover from some of the stupid actions of its characters.

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