• First Kill



    Released by: Lionsgate Entertainment
    Released on: September 5th, 2017.
    Director: Steven C. Miller
    Cast: Bruce Willis, Hayden Christiansen, Ty Shelton, Gethin Anthony, William DeMeo
    Year: 2016
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    The Movie:

    The storyline for First Kill is reasonably simple. A Wall Street big shot named Will (Hayden Christiansen) takes his son Danny (Ty Shelton) to the remote cabin that was his childhood home for a hunting trip. Will’s wife, a doctor named Laura (Megan Leonard) is along for the ride. Will’s intentions are to ‘reconnect’ with his kid. Lately he’s been putting in way too much time at the office and not enough time with the family. It’s a noble ambition, particularly since Danny’s been bullied at school lately.

    Things get off to a decent enough start for the two but soon enough, they wind up in a bad spot when they encounter a crew of dangerous criminals led by Levi (Gethin Anthony) and witness a murder and a cop winds up dead. Before you know it, Danny is kidnapped and used as a bargaining chip. The cops, led by Howell (Bruce Willis), are no use – they might even be in on it – leaving Will flying solo in an effort to save his son’s life.

    First Kill is not good. Neither is it bad. Really, First Kill is the epitome of ‘okay’ – a forgettable mediocre film that’ll help you kill an hour and a half without asking much of you, but not give you all that much to think about once it’s done. There are aspects of the movie that work quite well – Levi is a genuinely interesting character, an antagonist that exists somewhere in that grey area between good and bad. He’s a victim of circumstance in many ways and Gethin Anthony plays the part quite well. Hayden Christiansen also does fine as the male lead. He’s pretty far removed here from his Star Wars persona, and it’s interesting to see him, now obviously an adult, take on a more mature role. He does fine in the part. Megan Leonard is good enough in her role, but her role is basically a throwaway, there’s no character development on her part, though this isn’t really her fault, it’s a problem with the script. As to Bruce Willis? He’s playing Bruce Willis. He stretches not one iota here as an actor, he’s completely on autopilot. To be fair, he’s got enough natural charm that even on autopilot he’s at least watchable, but don’t go into this expecting to see Willis do anything interesting or unique, because that doesn’t happen.

    First Kill is very nicely shot. It features some great location photography and the cinematography makes good use of the widescreen format. The compositions are often impressive, even epic at times, really giving you a feel for the great outdoors where so much of this plays out. The score is serviceable if not remarkable. Really, most of what’s been put together for the movie is just fine – but the story is very pedestrian. When it’s riddled with predictability and clichés as it is here, it’s tough to care about things enough to really invest in the movie as a viewer. Again, this isn’t terrible, not by a long shot – it’s just not that interesting.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    First Kill arrives on Blu-ray from Lionsgate in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.40.1 widescreen and it looks excellent. Shot digitally there’s obviously no print damage of any kind to discuss, the image is pretty much immaculate. Colors look great and really nicely reproduced here. Black levels are also nice and strong but the image remains devoid of any obvious crush and has solid shadow detail. There’s very good texture and fine detail here as well, which lets your eyes take in all the icky detail of the corpse as the movie plays out!

    The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is fine. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion, the dialogue sounds clean and clear and the music has good range and presence to it. There are quite a few scenes, particularly the more action oriented ones, where the surround activity is particularly impressive. Levels are nicely balanced and there’s a nice strong low end that adds to a few key scenes (gun shots really benefit from this). Optional subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.

    Extras for this release start off with a director's commentary in which Steven C. Miller walks us through the making of the film. If you enjoyed the picture this might prove worthwhile as he talks about casting the film, the locations and some of the themes and ideas that the movie explores.

    From there, check out the eleven minute long Behind The Scenes Of First Kill which is just what it sounds like – a quick look at the making of the movie by way of some fairly fluffy talking head style cast and crew interviews mixed in with some behind the scenes footage. More comprehensive are the Cast And Crew Interviews section where, for over an hour in length, we get talks with cast members Gethin Anthony, Megan Leonard, Ty Shelton, Will De Meo, director Miller, cinematographer Brandon Cox and stunt coordinator Theo Kypri.

    Outside of that we get five minutes of deleted scenes, a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Lionsgate properties, menus and chapter selection. Packaged with the Blu-ray disc is an insert card with a download code for a digital HD version of the movie. All of this comes packed in a slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    First Kill is predictable and by the numbers. As mediocre as it is, it’s watchable enough, however, and there are a few decent action set pieces – but keep your expectations in check, there’s nothing new here. Lionsgate, to their credit, have done a very nice job with the Blu-ray release, presenting the film with very nice A/V quality and a decent array of extras.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!