It pains me to report that Killers of the Flower Moon-wise, there’s a little bit of trouble in River City. Not a huge amount of trouble, mind. I was moderately and at times actively engrossed and l certainly wasn’t in any kind of pain but…
It holds and occasionally fascinates in a dutiful, believable, step-by-step fashion, and it certainly radiates profound moral lament and heartache for the many Osage victims, but overall it doesn’t quite get there.
It’s basically a bit more than two hours of scheming and murder and fiendish plotting between Robert De Niro’s “King Hale” and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Ernest Burkhart, and a bit less than 90 minutes of Jesse Plemons and his FBI team arriving in Oklahoma and getting to the bottom of it all — but at the end of the day Killers doesn’t really generate enough juice.
Killers is certainly watchable in a steady, methodical way, but it never really builds up a head of steam. Authentic period atmosphere (early to mid 1920s) and beautifully shot. It certainly feels real and lived in, but also lacking a certain fire in the belly quality — a bit too measured and matter of fact and low-flamey.
It’s a good film but it feels too quiet and subdued and even…no, I won’t say mezzo-mezzo. It holds your interest and never bores. But it never really excites either.
All I can say is thank God for Plemons and the G-Men, whose arrival kicks up the dramatic tension and delivers a certain limited gusto.
Cheers for sad-eyed Lily Gladstone (it’s definitely her movie — Native American actress wins acting Oscar!!) and a superbly suffering DiCaprio as the yokelish, none-too-bright, puffy-faced Burkhart — but the film is slowish and drawn-out and kinda plodding at times…obviously dialogue-driven but altogether rather quiet and far from any definition of incendiary. It never really combusts.
Was the 206-minute length really necessary? And was the massive budget really justified? Minus the stars and the enormous budget and visual sprawl it could have been a modest four-episode HBO movie that would earn respect…at least that. But with few jumping and shouting for joy.