If that title doesn’t bring the crowds down in droves then surely nothing will. Unfortunately it isn’t the snuff movie you might be hoping for, merely a downright pedestrian film that makes you want to kill not just Bono but everyone else involved as well.
Based on the book Killing Bono: I was Bono’s Doppelganger by Neil McCormick, the movie follows the fortunes of the McCormick brothers, Neil and Ivan, school mates of Paul Hewson (AKA Bono) and their failed attempts to become rock stars, instead glowering from the bleachers as U2 blossom into one of the biggest bands in the world. The brother’s relationship suffers when it’s revealed Ivan was asked to be in U2 but Neil wrecked his chances.
This movie is not funny. Nor is it particularly cinematic. Rather it seems stuck in made-for-TV territory and often you find yourself waiting for the laughter track to play, at least then there would be some sort of reminder that what you’re watching is a comedy. The blame could well be on two of the four writers (four writers!) it took to script this mediocrity. Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, both highly regarded British TV writers with a host of respected sitcoms under their belts, seem to have just pulled out their joke book, cutting and pasting lines they were using nearly forty years ago. There just doesn’t seem to be any real spark or verve, it’s all just stuff we’ve seen executed elsewhere and executed with much more panache. Even the direction seems stale including a face-palming continuity error around the fifteen-minute mark (see if you can spot it) that seems to reinforce the notion that nobody was paying attention.
On the plus side Ben Barnes as Neil carries an Irish accent well and raises a couple of smiles with his ‘80s dancing, but the character is such a jerk he manages the impossible of making Bono seem likable in comparison. The recreation of London in the 1980s is great, with the accompanying hair and wardrobe spot on, but that isn’t enough to save the movie.
UK comedian Peter Serafinowicz does what he can with a fairly uninteresting role as a dodgy music exec-come-manager, while Pete Postlethwaite is just plain embarrassing as the stereotypical gay landlord (among other stereotypes including laid back American and tough as nails gangster). It’s such a shame that this is his last film because the man was an incredible actor but here he just looks ill, and having a ‘hilariously’ predatory old queen character look in such bad health in the ‘80s is either the worlds most distasteful AIDS joke or an example of how attention to period detail has trumped common sense.
It isn’t as well shot as Control, as funny as 24 Hour Party People, or as cool as Bothers Of The Head (the star of which Luke Treadaway makes a brief appearance in this). Hell it isn’t even as good as the BBC Boy George drama Worried About The Boy. U2 fans are going to be sorely disappointed at the lack of U2. So seriously, if that’s what attracts you to the movie steer clear.
No one wants to bash small budgeted films, in fact they have to be championed, it’s where you’re most likely to find new ideas, risks being taken and interesting performances. Unfortunately this is not the case here. Killing Bono needs to be put out of its misery.