The bare bones thriller "First Kill" is a small-town crime noir informed by the themes and iconography of classic Westerns. Written by Nick Gordon and directed by Stephen C. Miller ("Extraction," "Marauders"), it's a tale of fathers, sons, shifting allegiances, bad guys who do good things and good guys who do bad.
Hayden Christensen stars as high-powered Wall Street broker Will, who heads with his surgeon wife Laura (Megan Leonard) and bullied son Danny (Ty Shelton) to his hometown for some quality time. A hunting lesson in the woods goes awry when father and son witness an argument and shooting between two bank robbers. Caught in the middle of this violent altercation, Will is soon fighting to save his son from one of the robbers, Levi (Gethin Anthony), who kidnaps the boy for collateral.
Will finds that memories are long and personal histories deeply felt as he tangles with the town's Sheriff Howell (Bruce Willis) along the way.
"First Kill" features an efficient, lightning speed plot, hinting at altruistic motives for the crime spree. But the twisty, talky script by Gordon could have benefited from a "less is more" approach. Every character states their inner motivation out loud, often without prompting, making for a film that loses its intrigue almost immediately. Miller and Gordon appear more concerned with flipping character archetypes. Cops and robbers? You never know what to expect in "First Kill."
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Rating: R, for violence and language.
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills