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Dustin Putman

Kill Your Friends  (2016)
2 Stars
Directed by Owen Harris.
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Georgia King, Tom Riley, James Corden, Craig Roberts, Thomas Otterson, Joseph Mawle, Jim Piddock, Dustin Demri-Burns, Ella Smith, Ed Skrein, Bronson Webb, Frida Sundemo, Edward Hogg, Hugh Skinner, Moritz Bliebtreu, Kurt Egyiawan, Alex Gillison, Rosanna Arquette.
2016 – 103 minutes
Not Rated (equivalent of an R for strong bloody violence, drug use, sexual content and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, June 8, 2016.
There is no escaping the distinct similarities (both in tone and subject matter) between "Kill Your Friends" and 2000's blistering dark satire "American Psycho." Directed by Owen Harris and written by John Niven (based on his 2008 novel), the film is a study in attention-grabbing apathy and ruthlessness that finally, by the end, reveals it has nowhere to go that couldn't have been deemed from the opening act. The antihero of the piece is Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult), a hotshot corporate climber at London music label A&R Records. The year is 1997, and as he and his colleagues prowl nightclubs, travel across the globe, and listen to countless Britpop demos in search of their next big recording star, Steven appears more interested in partying it up with a cocktail of drugs, booze and women than he does in his work. Nevertheless, he wants—nay, needs—to be the best at his profession, and he will do whatever it takes, including homicide, to rise to the top.

"Kill Your Friends" saturates itself in nihilistic excess while presenting an uncompromisingly grim portrait of the recording industry. What is has to say, however, eventually grows stale as its narrative repetitively hits the same beats again and again. More uncomfortable than funny—though the scene-stealing Ella Smith (2015's "Cinderella") earns a few laughs as Steven's deadpan coworker Nikki—the film emanates a sense of déjà vu, with Nicholas Hoult's (2015's "Mad Max: Fury Road") sociopathic, power-hungry Steven Stelfox an appropriate but familiar stand-in for Christian Bale's Patrick Bateman. Make no mistake, Hoult is excellent in the role, immersing himself into the persona of a suave creep coveting the new promotion of the drug-addled, out-to-lunch Roger Waters (an against-type James Corden). For her part, Georgia King (2013's "Cockneys vs. Zombies") owns her screen time as Steven's ambitious assistant Rebecca, particularly as the full scope of her true intentions are revealed. With the conclusion of "Kill Your Friends" comes a distinct emptiness, though, the story's trajectory proving rote and pessimistic without much of a point behind it.
© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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