It’s easy to take for granted the golden age of DTV action we live in with filmmakers like Isaac Florentine and John Hyams bringing genuine inspiration to their films. Kill Ratio is a throwback to an earlier era; a time that most of us would like to forget… The DTV dark age of the early 2000s.
British actor Tom Hopper (Doctor Who) plays James Henderson, an ex-CIA bad-ass who now works for a telecommunications company. His boss, Gabrielle (Amy Huberman), is trying to secure a major contract in a vaguely Eastern European nation (we’ll call it Movieslovakia) making its first steps toward democracy. This boils down to entertaining local dignitaries in a hotel and shoving brochures in their faces. Things take a turn for the Die Hard when a coup breaks out and their hotel is overtaken by militants, and now Henderson has to use his kick-ass skillset to keep people safe and eventually wage a one-man war on the generic militants who threaten democracy.
First and foremost, this is a star vehicle for Tom Hopper. It’s always interesting to see American bravado as translated by a non-American (in this case British) actor. Hopper has a great screen presence and nails the action star thing like a champ. He projects the kind of wry charm that some of the best action heroes of the past have possessed. Without a doubt, Hopper shines from start to finish and is the best thing about this film.
They say the best way to elevate a hero is to challenge them with a great villain… unfortunately no one told that to the writers of this film. The villains aren’t so much comically inept as they just aren’t threatening. It feels like they’re going out of their way not to be too mean to our heroes for fear of causing an international incident (though they ARE complete dicks to the hotel staff). One of the biggest conflicts early in the film is whether or not someone can step outside for a quick smoke… seriously. The neutered threat makes even the most “tense” of scenes fall flat. About the only thing they get right is the obligatory “how bad-ass is he?” speech about Henderson right before the third act (spoiler: he’s suuuuper bad-ass and deadly and stuff).
One of the most important things in a Die Hard clone is the location where the action takes place. Nakatomi Plaza became character unto itself and dictated a lot of the film’s feel. The battleship in Under Siege (one of Die Hard’s best clones) served the same purpose. By comparison, Kill Ratio’s hotel setting is just plain bland; looking about as interesting as a Ramada Inn. The film’s workmanlike cinematography does the film no favors either and much of the film is confined to boring hotel rooms and the lobby.
None of these things are deal breakers as long as the action delivers…. Yeah, about that. The action in this film is the definition of pedestrian. The fight scenes are hacked to pieces and the choreography is uninspired. The gunfights are ruined by amateurish CG squibs and muzzle flashes. There’s so little ambition or creativity on display, you begin to wonder why they even bothered. The closest thing to a standout fight scene is a sword duel between Henderson and the evil General Lazar (Nick Dunning) at the end of the movie. It’s an entertainingly campy scene that, unfortunately, takes place AFTER the villains have been defeated. The film’s best action scene has zero stakes and feels like they just had to tie up a loose end.
Despite its promising star, Kill Ratio is a movie that’s hard to recommend. It’s not good enough to sincerely enjoy but also not bad enough to enjoy ironically. There are better, more creative actioners available on YouTube.