“Making a Killing” feels like a cheap Nevada Barr knockoff that lacks suspense, or a dusty paperback thriller you’d find at a rest stop. It’s so concerned with its basis in a true story that it doesn’t pay attention to the narrative that it is attempting to create. With its murderer clear from the first moments, the only real mystery here is in its characters’ muddy motivations.
As the mayor, priest and mortician of Cardinal, N.M., Arthur Herring (Mike Starr) has a hand in virtually every part of this small town’s operations. His brother Vincent (Jude Moran) serves as his right-hand man, but he often feels out of the loop on Arthur’s schemes.
When convicted pedophile Lloyd (Christopher Lloyd) returns from prison, he wants the money that Arthur was holding for him, but the mayor doesn’t want to pay. Lloyd soon ends up dead, and it’s up to visiting state police investigator Orlando Hudson (Michael Jai White) to find his killer.
There’s no sense of time, place or character in director Devin Hume’s film (co-written with Jamie Pelz), offering few details about Cardinal’s population or the town itself. Action star and martial artist White is full of his usual charm and wit, but he and his sparks of humor feel out of place in this otherwise dour film.
‘Making a Killing’
Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes
Playing: Starts Aug. 10, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills