A solid fun time that uses plastic bags for violence and art.
It’s usually fun when two “Pulp Fiction” stars are found in the same room in the same movie. It all really depends on how their scripts and directions are drawn and told. Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson are the latest alumni reuniting in “The Kill Room,” a small-time thriller that gets convoluted in the story, but has a style and attitude that keeps you involved.
It yet another movie to combine art and crime together, but through the perspectives of director Nicol Paone (“Friendsgiving”) and writer Jonathan Jacobson, it gives it a zany and dangerous vibe. One that loves plastic bags. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Thurman plays a struggling art dealer named Patrice, who comes across George (Jackson), a crime boss posing as a Jewish deli owner and making her an offer she can’t refuse. An offer that makes her involved in a money-laundering scheme, which involves art. His hitman Reggie (Joe Manganiello) must play the private artist known as “The Bag Man.” He’s called that because that how he murders his targets: suffocating them in plastic bags. And he even uses those murder weapons as his art. A good portion of them are red for obvious reasons.
Her intern Leslie (Amy Keum) spreads the words about the Bag Man, against Patrice’s wishes, and she can’t figure out why it has to be on the down low. But much to everyone’s surprise, the Bag Man becomes popular, even earning the attention of the art critic the Kimono (Debi Mazer).
And of course, Patrice becomes repulsed when she finds out Reggie is a murderer, and his art are his deadliest weapons. But at the very least, Thurman handles her situations with better consistency than how Toni Collette entered the mafia game in “Mafia Mamma.” That woman was an idiot who never had the common sense to watch “The Godfather” half now and half latter. This one is a smart woman, who tries to keep her game low key.
The third act goes all over the place with more gangsters and art, and I can’t understand it. But there’s a good enough of sly wit and twisted antics to keep things going.
I liked “The Kill Room,” not just for the casting of its two “Pulp Fiction” stars, but also because of how Manganiello can balance his tone of toughness and humor without humiliating himself in the process. And I’ve already mentioned how Thurman does a better job in this particular genre than Toni Collette did in “Mafia Mamma,” but she does a good job using her words and tastes.
I doubt this movie would find an audience, because this is an independent film released by Shout! Studios, and therefore, it has very little promotions. That and moviegoers have probably read some other critics’ mixed to negative responses. But there are some who are positive about “The Kill Room,” and who can see something fun inside it. I’m one of those critics, who enjoyed it. Not for the story, but for its attitude. So, don’t try to suffocate me with your plastic bag. And plus, I like to stick up for the little guys as much as possible. Maybe this will become a cult film. Only time will tell.
Now Playing in Select Theaters
This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA strike.