Here’s a fun thought to ponder: pretend that you’ve just received the awful news that you’ll be dead in a few months. Okay, now comes the part where you must figure out what to do with the few remaining days you have left. Will you just kick back, sulk, and wait for Death to come and drag you into Hell? Or will you try to make the most of your limited time on this earth and put a hit out on your own head so you can battle deadly assassins and live life on the edge? If the latter appeals to you, then you’ll love Dave Bautista’s new movie.
Collider broke the news that the Guardians of the Galaxy standout will spearhead Killer’s Game, an action-thriller being helmed by D.J. Caruso. Based on Jay Bonansinga’s book of the same name, the story follows Joe Flood (Bautista), a hitman who, after being informed by his doctor that he has only a few months to live, decides to put out a contract on his own life. In an unexpected turn of events, however, the doctor reveals that he made a mistake. It turns out that Flood is actually healthy — but he still has the tiny problem of an army of assassins to contend with.
We’re currently living in a post-John Wick world, meaning that there’s no better time to make entertaining hitmen movies. But plans to bring this story to the screen actually predate John Wick. As the Collider report reminds, Killer’s Game has been stuck in development hell for quite some time. Prior to Bautista’s casting, names like Michael Keaton, Wesley Snipes, and Jason Statham were even attached to star. The latter would be perfect for this movie, given that it promises to be one of the more outlandish action movies to come out of Hollywood since those wonderful Crank flicks.
Bautista is a great choice, though. Since breaking into Hollywood, he’s established himself as an impressive character actor who never ceases to surprise us with his career decisions. His best work so far, however, has been in action movies and comedies. The actor’s proven track record in combat sports makes him a convincing onscreen badass. At the same time, he has a very self-aware sense of humor and vibrant charisma that makes him irresistibly entertaining.
A movie like this one, which promises action-packed thrills and some dark comedy due to the story’s inherent silliness, is perfect for his sensibilities. Should they decide to play this movie straight-faced, though, Bautista has more than enough versatility to ground proceedings and add some emotional gravitas to his lone wolf warrior of potential self-commissioned death.
That said, this is still a Caruso action movie. A film with this premise, brought to us by the director of xXx: Return of Xander Cage, is going to be unabashedly tongue-in-cheek and a freaking blast as a result. In Return of Xander Cage, we see Vin Diesel skateboarding through the jungle so he could bring the World Cup to an impoverished village. I really hope Killer’s Game has similar moments that baffle and dazzle in a similar way. Those are the cinematic moments that we can all collectively cherish forever.
More than anything, though, it’s great to see Bautista in another leading role in a movie that’s likely to receive a wide mainstream release. Between this, My Spy, and Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, the A-list is finally realizing that Bautista could have some serious drawing power on his own merits. He’s been ready for a long time, but giving him these opportunities is better late than never.