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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Kill Me Again (Blu-ray)
Kill Me Again (Blu-ray)
Olive Films // R // March 22, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Tyler Foster | posted March 28, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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All of the elements one would likely want in Kill Me Again are present and accounted for in the finished film. It's a modern noir, the kind where a beautiful but dangerous woman with big inviting eyes knocks on the door of a private detective and hits him with an unusual and risky request. The film has a strong cast in the form of Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, and Michael Madsen, and a capable director in John Dahl (Joy Ride), who also co-wrote the screenplay (with David W. Warfield). Dahl slathers the film in some nice atmosphere, the cast has some crackling sexual chemistry together (Kilmer and Whalley were married at the time), and the plot traces a reasonably unpredictable course through the Nevada desert. Yet, despite everything, the movie is oddly inert, lacking some final bit of magic to bring it all together.

Whalley plays Fay Forrester, the beautiful but dangerous woman with big inviting eyes. She and her boyfriend, Vince Miller (Madsen) shoot a gangster and steal his briefcase, which they know to be filled with drug money. They're expecting maybe $10,000, but they end up with $875,000, which is enough to convince Fay to grab a rock holding a rest stop bathroom door open and conk Vince over the head with it after he gets overly aggressive. She takes the money and heads to Reno, where she looks up the private detective, Jack Andrews (Kilmer). Jack was once good at investigating schemes and fraud, until he survived a car accident and his wife didn't, and he began to drink. He's just been given a broken pinky as a result of a $10,000 gambling debt when Fay walks in with an offer that happens to pay exactly $10,000: find a way to fake her death, so that she can escape Vince...and get away with the money, which she keeps a secret from Jack.

The first miscalculation is the order in which Dahl introduces his characters: Fay and Vince first, Jack second. One of the central mysteries in Kill Me Again is meant to be whose side Fay is really on, but by the time Dahl gets around to the character who is meant to be asking that question constantly, we've already spent 15 or 20 minutes following Fay as she escapes a guy who repeatedly outs himself as a dangerous lunatic, and then meets another guy who seems to be a better fit for her. It isn't until after Jack has successfully staged Fay's murder that there's even an inkling that Fay is only going to keep digging Jack deeper into trouble, and even longer before there's an ambiguity as to whether or not she's doing it on purpose.

During those first two-thirds, the chemistry between Whalley and Kilmer is so palpable that the film seems more like a sexy romantic thriller than a suspense thriller. Even as they roll around in real blood acquired for the fake crime scene, Whalley is sexually magnetic, and at the time, the inclination is to root for Jack and Fay to run away together. Kilmer's performance adds to the movie's tonal confusion, coming off as wry and generally "fun", with the exception of a few flashbacks where he remembers the accident that killed his wife. Although Kilmer paints Jack as haunted by these incidents as they go by, they feel like lip service in the context of the movie as a whole. It's unclear how his wife's death influences his current actions, or if Fay -- who looks similar to his late wife -- is inspiring some sort of romantic echo in him. Hell, it's not even entirely clear what causes the fateful accident -- all the flashbacks really tell the viewer is that the incident happened.

As the film segues into its final third and really starts to fall apart at the seams by committing to ideas about Fay's character that haven't been properly communicated, another culprit starts to seem clear: an overly maudlin score by William Olvis that seems completely wrong for the neo-noir style that Dahl is capturing with the lights of Vegas, bags of money, and Whalley wearing a slinky, low-cut red dress. A clever climax arrives but overplays its hand with some overly convenient resolution to various dangling threads, and even then, it's a conclusion that is mostly enjoyable in and of itself, divorced from proper dramatic context that ought to come from the previous 85 minutes. It just goes to show: you can have a good chef in the kitchen with a bunch of smart assistants and all the right ingredients, but it'll still come out wrong if not everyone's following the same recipe.

The Blu-ray
Kill Me Again arrives with moody and stylish artwork that reflects the film's atmosphere, although it's so dark it almost makes the film look more like a horror movie than a thriller. The one-disc release comes in a boxy Infiniti Blu-ray case, and there is a postcard insert that will score the owner a copy of Olive's mail-order catalog.

The Video and Audio
Olive offers Kill Me Again with a 1.85:1 1080p AVC-encoded transfer that's on the higher quality end of the transfers MGM has provided to them. Colors are vivid and nicely saturated -- many of these transfers tend to look a little washed out, but this has an effective noir richness to it. Grain generally appears natural and refined, and detail is strong, picking up nuances in dirt on the road, wrinkles in used money, and texture on fabric. Sound is a decent DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that has some oomph when the film gets into its occasional action beats, and which captures the atmosphere of crowded Vegas casinos and the claustrophobic emptiness of a dingy Reno hotel room with equal accuracy. No subtitles or captions of any kind are provided.

The Extras
None, other than an original theatrical trailer.

Kill Me Again has quite a few pluses (including Whalley's allure), but the finished film fails to actually add them together, resulting in a handsome movie that never quite connects the way it ought to. For those who do enjoy the movie's tone or style, the technical merits of the Blu-ray are strong. Rent it.

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