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Sorry, Ashton fans, but 'Killers' is dead on arrival

Katherine Heigl, left, and Ashton Kutcher, as secret government agent Spencer, play a married couple in Killers.

Lionsgate

Katherine Heigl, left, and Ashton Kutcher, as secret government agent Spencer, play a married couple in Killers.

Everybody's cyber-pal Ashton Kutcher is perfect casting for Killers, since the screenplay is shallow as a Tweet and the movie appears to have been shot with a Nikon point-and-click camera he plugs on TV.

Kutcher needs each of his 5 million Twitter followers plunking down $8 for this listless, laughless "action comedy" if his movie career can avoid getting punked again.

For his co-star Katherine Heigl — possibly the toughest woman in movies to warm up to — it's already too late.

Killers casts Kutcher as Spencer, one of those super secret government agents who must've been hired because he looks nothing like the part. Spencer is on assignment in France when he meets Jen (Heigl), a recently dumped flutterbug on vacation with her parents (Tom Selleck, Catherine O'Hara), so you know she's a winsome loser. It's love at first sight of Spencer's washboard abs.

He decides to give up killing people for a living because that's what people do when they're in love. Three years later, they're married and living in a manicured suburb without Jen knowing Spencer's past. He comes clean only after a $20 million bounty is placed on his head, making neighbors and co-workers potential assassins. Oh, and Jen may be pregnant, allowing Heigl another of her trademark home pregnancy test scenes.

Nothing really materializes in the way of a plot until the final minutes and probably the clumsiest stretch for a resolution you'll see this summer. Nearly an hour of flirting without chemistry and introductions to one-note (if any) characters passes until anything approaching excitement happens. When it does, it's usually squealing tires, shattering glass and enough bullets to cause lead poisoning by simply breathing.

The script for Killers contains one decent joke, actually a throwaway wisecrack by Spencer about being a 4-H Club member in high school. Even a comedy near-legend like O'Hara is saddled with a role demanding nothing more than pretending to drink heavily at the wrong times. Selleck plays it grim as Jen's intimidating, protective father until that ludicrous finale when he revs it up to gruff.

At least Selleck has some sort of personality on screen. Kutcher has seldom appeared so bland and uninterested in pleasing his fans, while Heigl's best line deliveries are shrieks nearly drowning out the gunfire.

Lionsgate refused to show Killers to critics anywhere until opening day, and for once the axiom that only lousy movies are kept hidden is true. Kutcher did post the first 13 minutes of the movie on his Twitter page, which should be enough to save you a trip to the theater. It wouldn't take 140 characters to describe Killers in that social networking format; four letters should be enough.

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.

. Fast facts

"Killers"

Grade: D-

Director: Robert Luketic

Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck, Catherine O'Hara, Katheryn Winnick, Rob Riggle, Martin Mull

Screenplay: Bob DeRosa, Ted Griffin

Rating: PG-13; violence, profanity, sexual content

Running time: 99 min.

Sorry, Ashton fans, but 'Killers' is dead on arrival 06/04/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 4, 2010 9:17pm]
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