December 17, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Killer Joe'

Killer Joe (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

Hey Joe, where are you going with that gun in your hand? I’m going to shoot someone’s old lady, because they have a handsome life insurance policy. Yes indeed, legendary director William Friedkin is back with a bang in this modern day Noir that mixes up the down and dirty, with ample violence, with a good amount of dark humor.

So we dive into Killer Joe; a movie that constantly surprises, especially with some of the performances from the cast.

Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) is in a bit of a bind; he owes money to the mob, and has no way to get the cash. Actually, he does have one out, and that is to collect on the life insurance policy his mother has. Of course, that would mean his mom having to die. He runs the idea by his not-so-smart father, who is no longer with his ex, and formulates a plan to hire a contract killer to do the dirty work.

The killer they have in mind is Joe Cooper. Cooper is a detective for the Dallas Police Department, who just so happens to have a sideline in contract murder; you pay him, a quite handsome amount in cash, and he will get the job done. However, there are many twists and turns to the ultimate goal, and if you don’t have $6000 to pay the mob, you probably don’t have $20,000 to pay a hit man.

What to do in such a situation? You take a retainer, don’t you?

Killer Joe is a surprisingly witty and humorous movie. It’s laced with an underlying violence, due to the subject matter, and Friedkin has never been one to shy away from putting some shocking moments on the screen. With that in mind, even in this Unrated Director’s Cut, there is nothing too unsavory; although one or too moments may well make you squirm in your seat.

The relatively simple plot is given added weight from the performances of the cast, especially Matthew McConaughey. He is quite simply excellent in his role of Cooper. I really would not have expected it, but he dominates the screen and shows what he is really capable of. Forget some of the roles you have seen him in and enjoy this one, as it is one of the best performances I have seen this year. Calm and totally in control, this is a great role performed with total confidence by McConaughey.

Alongside McConaughey we also get treated to some fine performances by the underrated Gina Gershon, Juno Temple, who is always a pleasure to watch, and Thomas Haden Church. In fact all of these overshadow, in my opinion, Emile Hirsch’s role as Chris. That’s not to say that there was anything wrong with his performance, he was just overshadowed by the rest of the incredible cast.

Killer Joe shows that William Friedkin is still a director to be reckoned with, and I am sure this movie will go down as one of his career high points. It may never garner the prestige of films such as The Exorcist or The French Connection, but it is still two hours of fantastic cinema that I highly recommend you check out.

Among the extras included on this Unrated Blu-ray release is an Audio Commentary from Friedkin himself, as well as Southern Fried Hospitality: From Stage to Screen. Overall this is a definite purchase, as opposed to a rental. Killer Joe delivers with a bang!

Killer Joe is released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 21st from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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