Killing Gunther

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Killing Gunther
Killing Gunther.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Taran Killam
Produced by
  • Taran Killam
  • Kim Leadford
  • Ash Sarohia
  • Steve Squillante
Written by Taran Killam
Music by Dino Meneghin
Cinematography Blake McClure
Edited by Adam Epstein
Distributed by Saban Films
Release date
  • October 20, 2017 (2017-10-20) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English

Killing Gunther is an American action comedy film written and directed by Taran Killam, in his directorial debut. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as the titular Gunther alongside Killam, Cobie Smulders, and Bobby Moynihan. It was released on video on demand on September 22, 2017, before being given a limited theatrical release on October 20, 2017 by Saban Films.


In early 2016, Blake, a somewhat eccentric yet effective hitman, decides to become more famous by killing the world's greatest hitman, Gunther. For that he hires a documentary crew to have video proof that he did it and document the process. He also puts together what he describes as an "unstoppable team" composed of his friend Donnie, a former miner skilled with the use of explosives, Sanaa, the daughter of a legendary hitman Rahmat Fairouza, nicknamed "the nightmare", who is overenthusiastic in his support for his daughter's career, Gabe, an unexperienced technology expert, and Ashley, Blake's elderly and sickly mentor. As Ashley explains to the documentary crew that he is in it because Gunther betrayed him, he has a heart attack and the team is left incomplete.

In order to fill in for Ashley, Blake hires Izzat, a former Islamist extremist-turned-hitman with an extremely strong robotic arm who wants to build a reputation for himself. They also hire Yong, a poison obsessed killer who wants revenge from Gunther for killing his pet snake, and the psychotic twins Mia and Barold Bellakalakova who decide to join the group in a "workation", and they are also joined by Max, Blake's former partner who was also trained by Ashley. The group gathers in a warehouse so they can attempt to track down Gunther. Max reveals that he knows where Gunther lives and has the location on a flash drive, however, before he can tell the group, Gunther ambushes them with a sniper rifle, shooting Max's flash drive before killing him and then firing a rocket launcher at the group before disappearing.

As Blake mourns Max's loss, it is revealed that his real motivation to kill Gunther is that his ex, Lisa, slept with Gunther prior to breaking up with him due to them growing distant. The group learns that Ashley has been cleared to leave the hospital and Blake, Sanaa and Gabe go pick him up, but he has another heart attack seconds after leaving the hospital, forcing him to return. The team stocks on weaponry from an eccentric arms dealer and moves on to plan B. They set up a fake hit and keep surveillance on the target. 12 days later, Gunther shows up and invades the building in which the target is, but they fail to reach Gunther before he kills the target and end up fighting him inside the building. During a hand to hand fight with Izzat, Gunther chokes him with his own robotic hand (which frequently clenches due to its running out of battery), however, Sanaa manages to shoot Gunther in the leg and is saved from being shot in return by Donnie who pushes her out of the way.

The group return to their safe house and review the footage from the documentary crew and are shocked to learn that Gunther was wearing a mask identical to Blake's face. Yong tells them that he's got a tip that someone with a leg wound has been looking for treatment by a local underground doctor, the group deduces that it must be Gunther and goes to the doctor's place and surrounds it. Donnie plants a bomb in Gunther's car and attempts to detonate it, however, the bomb apparently fails and every car around them explodes, except the one which Donnie rigged to explode. As they go to check it, Yong discovers that the trunk is full of poisonous snakes; mesmerized, he doesn't react until one bites him in the neck, causing him to remark "is this what poison feels like? It sucks..." before dying. Another car quickly comes to pick Gunther up, however, shortly after Gunther enters the car, Sanaa shoots the driver, causing it to crash. The team then unloads their weapons into the car before Donnie tosses a grenade inside it. Upon confirming that there were two bodies, they go out to celebrate and Sanaa and Donnie spend the night together.

Blake is awakened in the middle of the night by Rahmat chasing Donnie while threatening to kill him with a pistol for sleeping with his daughter, claiming that Blake texted him. Blake, realizing it must have been Gunther, goes to check on the Bellakalakova twins only to find them dead. Donnie leaves the group to hide from Rahmat and Sanaa follows them, attempting to stop her father. Blake, along with only the documentary crew and Gabe, decides to go back to his apartment, only to find it under surveillance by the FBI. They decide to lay low at Gabe's cramped apartment, where Blake is contacted by Donnie, who is in disguise due to running away from Rahmat. Donnie calls out Blake for not doing everything he could in order to find Gunther (such as interrogating his ex) and says that he wants to quit the killer business to be with Sanaa.

Blake then goes to Lisa's house and delivers all the letters he had written her while he was away, and he also reveals that he kept his distance because he was afraid that someone would hurt her to get to him. Blake then receives a call from the hospital saying that Ashley is healthy enough to leave. He picks up Ashley, only for him to suddenly die of a heart attack.

At Ashley's funeral, Blake delivers his eulogy and is ineffectively consoled by Gabe. Donnie appears to show his sympathies but Rahmat finds him and is about to kill him when Sanaa reveals that she is pregnant. Before Donnie can say anything a bomb explodes in Ashley's grave sending his tombstone flying towards Gabe's head, crushing it. Blake sobs and declares that while Gabe was "completely useless" he stuck with him until the end.

Lisa finds Blake and gives him Gunther's home address. He gathers weaponry and prepares to storm the house by himself, initially managing to get in without resistance. Blake soon finds himself in a shootout with Gunther, only to be assisted by Sanaa and Donnie who show up suddenly. They chase Gunther into a room where he reveals himself to them and tells them that he too has been making a documentary about his trying to kill them.

Gunther chides them for not working hard to achieve their reputation saying that while he had to do it "the old fashioned way," they just want a shortcut by killing him. He then claims not to be mad at them and gives the group a chance to leave. Donnie and Sanaa decide to leave the house while Gunther attempts to keep talking down Blake, even apologizing for sleeping with Lisa. However, upon realizing that Blake still wants to kill him, he reveals that he kidnapped Lisa and says that if Blake kills him, his camera crew will kill Lisa.

Lisa hits Gunther, momentarily distracting him and giving Blake enough time to kill his henchmen. Lisa escapes while Blake and Gunther fight. Blake is hopelessly outmatched as Gunther simply beats him down with ease, however, before he can finish Blake off, the police arrive and Gunther disappears while Blake grabs a weapon to shoot him.

The film cuts to a year later when it's revealed that Donnie and Sanaa are happily married and have a daughter, Donnie having earned Rahmat's respect by converting to Islam after a number of death threats by Rahmat (although he claims it was his own choice). Lisa has married someone else and Blake has disappeared. Gunther is revealed to have retired and is back living in his native Austria where he set up a gardening community for his town's elderly and rediscovered his love for country music. In the middle of the interview with the documentary crew, he is suddenly shot by a deranged and unkempt Blake who celebrates finally having murdered Gunther. However, he realizes that Gunther is wearing a bomb vest with a dead man's switch, and the bomb goes off, killing him.

Later in an interview with the Austrian authorities, it is revealed that Gunther is somehow still alive and disguised as a reporter.



The film was first announced during the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, originally under the title of Why We're Killing Gunther. The film is written and directed by Taran Killam, marking his directorial debut. It was announced that Arnold Schwarzenegger would star as Gunther, with Cobie Smulders, Bobby Moynihan, Paul Brittain, Kumail Nanjiani, Randall Park, and Ryan Gaul cast as well, and filming was expected to begin in June 2016.[2][3] Tatiana Maslany was in negotiations to star in the film but due to scheduling conflicts declined the role.[4]

Filming began in Vancouver, British Columbia in July 2016.[5]

Saban Films acquired the rights to the film, now simply titled Killing Gunther, with a scheduled release date for October 20, 2017.[6][7]


Killing Gunther was released on video on demand on September 22, 2017, before a limited theatrical release on October 20, 2017, by Saban Films.[8]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 55% based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "KILLNG GUNTHER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2 April 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2018. The BBFC classification is for video, meaning it includes 4% PAL speed-up.
  2. ^ Pedersen, Erik (May 3, 2016). "Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Target In 'Why We're Killing Gunther'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  3. ^ McNary, Dave (May 3, 2016). "Cannes: Arnold Schwarzenegger Joins Comedy 'Why We're Killing Gunther'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  4. ^ Siegel, Tatiana; Ford, Rebecca (May 10, 2016). "Cannes: Tatiana Maslany Falls Out of 'Why We're Killing Gunther' Over Date Conflict". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  5. ^ Brown, Scott (July 29, 2016). "Idina Menzel filming Beaches remake in Vancouver". Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  6. ^ Hipes, Patrick (July 7, 2017). "Taran Killam & Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Killing Gunther' Acquired By Saban Films". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  7. ^ @TaranKillam (July 7, 2017). "Very excited to announce my 1st directing effort will be out in the world October 20th!!!!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  8. ^ King, Danny (18 October 2017). "Tracking Shots: This Week in Film". Village Voice. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  9. ^ "Killing Gunther (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 21, 2018.

External links[edit]