The pretentious, preposterous, dueling-dialect flameout called “Killing Season” has to stand as one of the biggest missed opportunities in iconic matchups. Robert De Niro plays a loner American military vet whose Appalachian retreat for wood-chopping and elk-gazing is disturbed by John Travolta’s black-clad, chin-curtained Bosnian war criminal, a motormouth Serb bearing a bottle of Jagermeister, a bow and arrows, and a score-settling scenario.
Neither kills the other after repeated chances in screenwriter Evan Daugherty’s mano-a-mano set-up, however, because then we wouldn’t get long, tedious “we’re the same, you and I” war philosophizing, the side helpings of torture (salty lemonade waterboarding!) and the regrettable sight of great actors sporting uncomfortable accents. (Q: What do you get from listening to a New Yorker’s slapdash Southern drawl meet a glug-glug-glug Eastern European mutter? A: Sudden interest in the set decoration.)
“Killing Season” director Mark Steven Johnson acquits himself only by getting the most out of his woodsy locations, and bringing it all in at 91 minutes before we’re ready to swear off two-handers forever.
MPAA rating: R for strong violence, some torture, and language including some sexual references.
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes.
Playing: At AMC Rolling Hills 20.