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Being in the wrong place at the wrong time has made for plenty of interesting stories and with First Kill, it involves the worst possible scenario in a movie that has plenty of action but not much of it original. It’s an ambitious film, with a few good performances, but is marred by a script full of contrivances and an overall lack of attention to the production.
Lucrative NYC businessman Will (Hayden Christensen) has a problem. His son gets bullied too often, and he’s at his wits end on what to do, so naturally, the only option is to take him into the woods to kill a deer to toughen him up. Bringing along his wife, they ride down to the country where they literally bump into local police sheriff Howell (Bruce Willis), an old friend of the family. He warns them that there’s been some robberies and they should be careful. Of course, out in the forest, Will and his boy run right into the bank robbers who are not having a friendly chat. Guns are drawn and when Will has to make a choice, he kills one of them in self defense. With the other man wounded, Will takes him home but doesn’t contact authorities because the man he’s killed was wearing a badge. It only gets worse from there.
Directed by prolific filmmaker Steven C. Miller, First Kill, which sounds like the title of a 90s Steven Segal movie, is a retread of many in the genre, with desperate bad guys and innocent victims forced to do things they never thought they were capable of. It begins with a few introduced themes that are quickly abandoned as fodder to get to the main story, which ends up being a standard potboiler with characters making terrible choices. Clearly, the point of the plot is more important than the details as priority is put on the action rather than the things that lead to them. Case in point, a key that is tossed into a field. How this happens and where it lands is meant to have great weight but in execution, not so much.
The second half of the film goes in new directions as Danny gets kidnapped and Will has a secret he’s too afraid to tell Howell. It further tries to give the bank robbers motivation, and while this might seem like a twist, it feels more like a loose way to close circles than to add to the story. Along with loads of expositional dialogue, including a tell-all by the kidnapper to the boy, there’s not much here to give the film any sense of depth or momentum.
Christenson and Willis go through the paces well enough, both convincing in roles that are spackled over by years of overuse. Willis does his best, now in his third film with Miller, having a bit more meatier parts than the others, relying more on something grounded than over the top. A generic electronic score pulses over the whole affair though and the film as a whole never gets to where it should. A decent crime thriller, First Kill at least pays off on the premise it sets up, but is otherwise a misfire.
Movie description: First Kill is a 2017 action/thriller about a Wall Street broker who is forced to evade a police chief investigating a bank robbery as he attempts to recover the stolen money in exchange for his son's life.
Director(s): Steven C. Miller
Actor(s): Bruce Willis, Hayden Christensen, Ty Shelton