Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Madden
Written byHossein Amini
Based onKillshot
by Elmore Leonard
Produced byLawrence Bender
Richard N. Gladstein
StarringDiane Lane
Thomas Jane
Mickey Rourke
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Rosario Dawson
Gerard Uil
CinematographyCaleb Deschanel
Edited byMick Audsley
Lisa Gunning
Music byKlaus Badelt
Distributed byThird Rail Releasing
The Weinstein Company
Release dates
  • November 13, 2008 (2008-11-13) (Israel)
  • January 23, 2009 (2009-01-23) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.9 million[1]

Killshot is a 2008 American action thriller film directed by John Madden, and starring Diane Lane, Thomas Jane, Mickey Rourke and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It is based on Elmore Leonard's 1989 novel of the same name. The story follows a couple who, despite being in a Witness Protection Program, are being chased and confronted by the criminal they outed.


Armand Degas, a hitman known as "Blackbird", accidentally shoots his younger brother during a job. Years later, he is hired by a Mafia boss to assassinate the man's father-in-law at a hotel, but also kills a witness. Visiting Walpole Island, Blackbird crosses paths with Lionel, a fellow First Nations member, and notices Wayne Colson, a recently fired ironworker. Separated from his wife Carmen, Wayne collects some belongings from their house in Michigan.

Unable to collect his payment for the hotel murder, Blackbird learns the Mafia boss wants him dead for needlessly killing the witness. He meets Richie Nix, a volatile young criminal, and joins his scheme to extort Carmen's boss, Nelson Davies. Visiting Carmen's office to ask for a job, Wayne is mistaken for Davies by Richie and Blackbird. Richie demands the money at gunpoint, but Wayne fends them off, throwing Richie out a window. As Wayne and Carmen see Blackbird's face before he escapes with Richie, he vows to kill them.

Blackbird recognizes Wayne from Walpole Island, where he and Richie press Lionel for Wayne's whereabouts before killing him. Staying at the home of Richie's girlfriend Donna, Blackbird and Richie arrive at the Colsons' house just as Wayne drives off. Richie takes off after him, and Carmen confronts Blackbird with Wayne's shotgun before locking herself inside and calling the police. Richie shoots at Wayne inside a convenience store but he escapes, and Richie kills the clerk. In the morning, the Colsons learn about Blackbird from the FBI and are placed in Witness Protection.

Richie tricks Carmen's mother into revealing the Colsons have moved to Missouri. Carmen suspects the FBI is using them as bait to find the killers, but reconnects with Wayne in their new life together. Blackbird coerces the Mafia boss into digging up his brother's body and burning it in a car with another corpse to fake Blackbird and Richie's deaths. DNA from the body is tested against Blackbird's other incarcerated brother, proving they are related. With the FBI convinced the killers are dead, Wayne and Carmen are allowed to return home. Jealous of Donna's advances toward Blackbird, Richie shoots her before they leave to kill the Colsons.

After admitting to Wayne that she is not sure their marriage will survive, Carmen returns home alone, finding Richie and Blackbird waiting. Richie torments Carmen, spraying her with buck lure, forcing her to stay in her underwear, and putting a bullet in her mouth which she spits onto the floor. Losing his patience after Richie antagonizes him about Donna, Blackbird shoots Richie dead. Emptying Richie's pistol, he allows Carmen upstairs to get dressed. She finds another of Wayne's shotguns, but Blackbird disarms her.

Wayne arrives, and realizes Carmen is being held hostage. He retrieves his shotgun from his truck as Blackbird bursts outside. They exchange fire and Wayne is hit, losing his gun. As Blackbird moves in for the killshot, he turns to see Carmen aiming Richie's gun, which he reminds her is empty, but remembers the bullet she spat out earlier. While Blackbird is distracted, Wayne crawls to his shotgun, and he and Carmen shoot Blackbird at the same time. Blackbird falls dead, as Carmen and Wayne embrace.



Development and writing

The film adaptation of the 1989 novel Killshot by Elmore Leonard began development as early as May 1997 under Miramax Films,[2] which had optioned Leonard's novel.[3] After completing Pulp Fiction (1994), Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary acquired the film rights to Elmore Leonard's novel Killshot. Tarantino initially planned to write and direct Killshot and have another director make Rum Punch, but changed his mind after re-reading Rum Punch, saying he "fell in love" with the novel all over again.[4] By September 2004, the adaptation entered active development, with director John Madden expressing interest in helming.[5] By January 2005, The Weinstein Company hired Madden to direct the film based on a script by Hossein Amini.


The following August, actors Diane Lane, Thomas Jane, and Mickey Rourke were cast in the lead roles.[6] In September, actors Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Johnny Knoxville were cast.[7] Actress Sandra Bullock was originally considered for the role taken by Lane, while John Travolta, Viggo Mortensen, and Justin Timberlake were originally reported to have been up for the roles taken by Rourke, Jane, and Gordon-Levitt, respectively.[3]


Principal photography began in October 2005 in Toronto, Ontario.[6] Filming also took place in Cape Girardeau along the Mississippi River.[8] Production concluded by December 2005.[9]


By July 2006, Killshot was being screened to test audiences who had previously enjoyed Traffic and Collateral.[10] Test screenings showed that audiences found the plot too confusing and that the story was not tightened enough. As a result, scenes involving Cape Girardeau and a subplot involving Johnny Knoxville's role as a deputy were edited from the film.[11]



Killshot was originally slated to be released on March 17, 2006.[12] It then was delayed to October 20, 2006.[13]

Home media

It was reported on July 19, 2008, that Killshot would be going straight to DVD.[14] In early September 2008, the film was resurrected for November 7, 2008,[citation needed] but then pushed back to January 23, 2009.[1] The film was released on DVD on May 26, 2009, and Blu-ray on February 22, 2011.


Critical response

The film received mixed reviews. As of July 2020, it holds a 33% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on six reviews with an average rating of 4.92 out of 10.[15]


  1. ^ a b "Killshot (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
  2. ^ Joseph Steuer (May 13, 1997). "Miramax Slate Includes Gooding, Kidman, Silverstone". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ a b Carole E. Barrowman (June 1, 2005). "Takes Five; Elmore Leonard". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  4. ^ Jackie Brown: How It Went Down. Jackie Brown DVD Special Edition. Miramax Home Entertainment. 2002.
  5. ^ Dana Harris (September 8, 2004). "Gordon jumps into Miramax role". Variety. Retrieved January 16, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Claude Brodesser (August 30, 2005). "Weinsteins take a 'Shot'". Variety. Retrieved January 16, 2008.
  7. ^ Michael Fleming (September 19, 2005). "Double duty for Dawson". Variety. Retrieved January 16, 2008.
  8. ^ "Cape Girardeau to host filmmakers". The Commercial Appeal. August 26, 2005.
  9. ^ Roger Varley (November 1, 2005). "Killshot being filmed in Richmond Hill". Richmond Hill Liberal.
  10. ^ Stephen Galloway (July 25, 2006). "Test screenings". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 29, 2006. Retrieved January 16, 2008.
  11. ^ Deb Peterson (May 30, 2007). "Movie fame eludes Cape, but 'river town' got money, fun". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  12. ^ Susan Dunne (January 1, 2006). "Winter Movies: A Mixed Bag". The Hartford Courant.
  13. ^ Moira Macdonald (September 17, 2006). "Films open, leaves drop: It must be fall". The Seattle Times.
  14. ^ "MarketSaw – 3D Movies and Technology: Exclusive! Interview With Thomas Jane Director/Actor In "The Dark Country": New 3D Techniques!". July 17, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  15. ^ "Killshot (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 10, 2020.