The classics of his heyday – the Terminators and the Predators – are always going to be the titles that people reflect upon of when they think of the name Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it is arguably in the years since returning to the big screen after his extended political absence that we’ve seen some of the Austrian Oak’s more interesting works. By contrast, this intensely soporific screwball comedy from SNL alum Taran Killam (who writes & directs here) is unlikely to pique the curiosity of even the most ardent Arnie fan.
Schwarzenegger plays the titular Gunther, an enigmatic hitman who’s revered by many within the business to be the best contract killer in the world. Indeed, so prolific is his popularity that others soon begin to get jealous. And so a ragtag band of eccentric assassins – led by the Killam’s condescending gun for hire, Blake – gather together to stop Gunther the only way they know how. However, following a number of botched confrontations, it becomes clear that their target is already one step ahead of them.
Adopting a monotonous mockumentary style that only makes you pine for the caustic wit of Christopher Guest, Killam is about as skilled as a director as his onscreen counterpart is with a weapon; suffice to say, neither are adept at hitting the target. His writing reduces the committed performances of Bobby Moynihan, Hannah Simone & Paul Brittain to nothing but a gaggle of cheap stereotypes and lazy caricatures. Meanwhile, the action beats borrow heavily from the work of Ilya Naishuller, and Neveldine & Taylor; it’s frantic, fast-paced, and almost impossible to focus upon.
As for Schwarzenegger, he doesn’t turn up until over an hour into the runtime, and proceeds the spend his stint on the screen bounding around in lederhosen, singing country music out of key, and struggling to pronounce the word “cappuccino”. So ignorantly tone-deaf is Killam’s handling of his star actor, it leaves one wondering whether Arnie’s wry exclamation that he’s “too old for this shit” isn’t really just a cry for help.
Out Now In Cinemas