Killing Gunther

This is a 2017 mockumentary about a team of assassins trying to take down the world’s greatest hitman (Arnold Schwarzenegger) – not a missing episode of Friends. Because that would be The One Where They Kill Gunther.

The point of a mockumentary is surely to have some semblance of reality – that’s what makes Spinal Tap, Kenny and The Office work; the characters are well-rounded enough to fit into exaggerated yet real-world scenarios. Killing Gunther has no such semblance, using the format in an ill-fated attempt to mask its one-note characters, obvious jokes and predictable plot points.

In fact the only surprising thing about this particular Arnie movie is the overwhelming absence of Arnie. It’s over an hour before he shows up, and when he does it’s to spout a garbled succession of old Arnie quotes, posing the paradox of a) why he’s in this film and b) why he isn’t. He’s Schrödinger’s Schwarzenegger.

If it misleads, we can kill it.

Initially the movie seems to be working around Arnold’s absence in a way that points towards budgetary constraints (compounded by some of the worst CGI ever to hit Netflix), or that he dropped out and they had to cobble the film together from handheld rehearsal footage. Ultimately though the picture’s underlying problems appear to be creative rather than financial, deliberately cramming Arnie’s screen time into the final act as though trying to be Kill Bill but ending up Kill Keith.

Killing Gunther is a schizophrenic Schwarzenegger flick whose only constant is laziness. Everything from the editing (characters keep appearing and disappearing without explanation) to the locations (Arnie is literally sat in front of scaffolding at one point) smack of “that’ll do.” Arnold is the only person trying; everything else is just trying.

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