Killer: A Journal Of Murder

on September 06, 1996 by Susan Lambert
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   This impotent, ill-fated effort to capture the psyche of a killeris saved from total disaster only by its good intentions, the powerful truth behind the film and some eager performances. Sweet-faced Robert Sean Leonard ("Much Ado About Nothing") has the difficult task of revealing the inner conflicts of Henry Lesser, an idealistic Jewish prison guard in the 1920s who befriends a killer, Carl Panzram. James Woods, who must watch himself before becoming an art-house Eric Roberts, effectively captures the eyes and brutal soul Panzram, who responds to a bit of human kindness.
   The movie lacks depth, literally and figuratively. Despite inspiration by real people and true events, these characters exist only to walk through the scenes, say their lines and drift away nto darkness, animated at the whim of a writer/director who fails to communicate the subtle, conflicting drama of an intelligent man of ideals facing an equally intelligent man of terror. It muddles through territory somewhere between "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Dead Man Walking," though "Killer" never comes close to the power of either.    Starring James Woods and Robert Sean Leonard. Directed and written by Tim Metcalfe. A Legacy release. Drama. Rated R for strong language and strong, brutal violence, including a rape. Running time: 91 min.
Tags: James Woods, Robert Sean Leonard, Tim Metcalfe, Legacy, Drama, Henry Lesser, Jewish
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