David is high school student who struggles with random horrific visions and seizures at home. In the middle of class gunmen storm in his classroom and attempt to take him captive. He breaks free from his captors and awakens powers dormant inside him. On the run from a mysterious organization and other powered up agents David must find out more about his clouded past if his is to live another day.
Billed as a sci-fi action flick from brothers James and Chris Mark, Kill Order has a handful of solid action sequences in it. Chris and all of the actors who played ‘Subjects’ in the film all have extensive stunt backgrounds doing the dirty work for international and Hollywood productions here in Canada so we welcome their opportunity to stand in front of the camera front and centre instead of standing in for someone else. Though, why is Jennifer Li (Star Wars The Last Jedi, Supernatural and Lucifer) dressed up like a goddamned cosplay girl? Really? Her male counterparts are dressed black ops style and she’s dolled up to enter a costume contest at the local con. That is just simply disappointing.
Chris displays proficiency in hand to hand combat and weapons, including a very, very good sword fight at the beginning of the film. All the sequences clock in at a really decent length too. Cut to ribbons because, hey, it's hard work swinging fist and weapons full tilt for minutes on end but each fight is more than satisfactory in length. Brother James and his camera crew, led by Justin Lovell, do a good job of containing the action within the frame, even when the camera moves counter to the action.
And setting your story in the world of science fiction allows you break the rules of physics a little bit and not have the audience guffawing at your audacious request that they suspend their disbelief for a moment. If you tell them outright that your fighters have enabled powers the they will believe that all punches result in weightlessness followed by broken ‘anything that happens to be in their way’.
A reminder that Chris’s David has augmented powers that awaken in him at the most inopportune time. The people responsible for bestowing David with those powers now want him back, except they do not ask nicely. Cue fists, legs, swords and guns, cause David is eventually going to embrace his discovered powers and dish out a whole lot of enabled hurt on the bad guys.
Let us not bandy about, the story is wafer thin here. Understanding that Kill Order merely stands as a vehicle to showcase longstanding Canadian martial arts and stunt talents helps get us through. James’s story all but hides or eliminates the emotional attachments that David may have. It denies us the opportunity to see if Chris has what it takes to bear emotional weight in a film as all that he has left to do in Kill Order is fight to survive. He is not the hero of the story, he is merely a survivor.
For what can be considered a debut feature film for a lot of the folks involved in the production, in as many senses of the word you may stretch it to, Kill Order stands to showcase the action skills and athleticism of lead actor Chris Mark and many other Canadian stunt performers who have suffered long behind the scenes of someone else’s international production. It also goes to show that his brother James has a good understanding of how to create, develop and frame action sequences that promote his brother’s and everyone’s skill sets and abilities. Work on retaining emotional catalysts in his stories will help draw in audiences with an emotional engagement in characters in future projects.
In the same way it is like how Gareth Evans’ Merantau got the World thinking that Iko Uwais could one day lead an action film, to prove so in The Raid films. I am not claiming that Chris is ready for that leap. Merantau at least had characters that Uwais could invest in whereas James’s script removes David’s emotional attachments as quickly as he introduces them, so there is no way to know if Chris is capable of performing on that level. He can punch, kick and twirl in the air with the best of them, but Kill Order does not let us in on his capabilities of bearing emotional demands or incentives.
Kill Order is a good showcase action piece for the Mark brothers and sets a foundation that shows promise and I believe is worth building on.