The Kill Room 2023 Movie Review
The Kill Room is a crime satire set for slaying in the modern art world. Catering to an audience that might not be hip to those in jokes, director Nicol Paone wisely fills her canvas with the witty Samuel L. Jackson, the sexy Uma Thurman, and the chiseled Joe Manganiello. Although hung on stories seen before, The Kill Room is an entertaining enough piece worth a 98-minute glance in any cinematic gallery.
Samuel L. Jackson plays Gordon, a broker for assassin Reggie (Manganiello), whose method of choice is strangulation and preferred tool is a plastic bag. With plastic shopping bags banned in certain states, including New York where this story is set, the metaphor of using a deadly weapon is not lost. Reggie has a high success rate leading Gordon’s capo to look for a new avenue to launder money. A chance meeting between Gordon and cash-strapped art gallery owner Patrice (Thurman) proves serendipitous for both.
Scripted by Jonathan Jacobson, The Kill Room is amusing crime fiction wrapped in a comedic body bag as Reggie’s murders eventually transform into avant-garde art. Reggie becomes known as the Bagman whose art, naturally, becomes more of a success than the laundering biz. The Kill Room itself then dips into a slight case of thievery as the plot follows Woody Allen’s Small Time Crooks, which also features a cover business that becomes more of a success than the actual crime. As life imitates art, so too does art imitate art.
Paone balances Reggie’s realistic violence with the art world spoofs in a lighter manner than the inaccessible, and poorly-executed, Velvet Buzzsaw. Yet for a movie set in a creative realm, there is nothing splashy with the presentation. The movie is flat and sparse with only the quasi-Pulp Fiction reunion of Jackson and Thurman to break up the blank monotony. Manganiello’s dark eyes speculate as the supporting cast of art snobs (including Thurman’s daughter, Maya Hawke) swoon at indecipherable minutiae. It is all pleasing but oh-so momentary and forgettable.
The Kill Room, like the art being satirized within, has clever subtext but lacks that deep impression. The movie successfully captures the transitory nature of art styles noting such as an allegory of movies as they exist within modern streaming services. The Kill Room itself might not present a shocking spectacle like the Bagman but when paired with a proper wine and cheese, could nicely kill off a Friday night.