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The Killing Time (1987) Review

Review; Mar. 22, 2012; Channels: Movies; By Charles Rector

Hollywood has a tendency to underestimate the intelligence of the American people. This is shown by the plethora of poorly thought out so-called “motion pictures” produced and distributed every year. One such movie is 1987’s The Killing Time.

The Killing Time

Kiefer Sutherland stars as a hitchhiker who kills Brian Mars who has just been hired as a deputy sheriff in a coastal county in Louisiana. Sutherland assumes the identity of his victim and arrives in the county seat to become a new deputy sheriff, and nobody suspects otherwise. This is despite the fact that Mars was supposed to be a good friend of the chief deputy sheriff (Beau Bridges) and Sutherland’s tendency to make statements such as he likes being a deputy sheriff because he can carry a gun and shove people around.

Perhaps part of the reason why nobody catches on to Sutherland’s deception is that in this particular county, corruption in law enforcement is rampant. The county sheriff (Joe Don Baker) is planning on moving to Mexico where he will live out his retirement on a huge nest egg created by lavish bribes and kickbacks. Even by the low standards of Hollywood, Baker’s corruption and exaggerated Southern fried sheriff behavior is absurd. If The Killing Time was a comedy, then it might work. However, in an alleged straight action drama, Baker’s act is screwy.

The chief deputy sheriff is not much better. Despite the fact that his ex-girlfriend is now married to a wealthy San Francisco real estate developer who has a nice estate down in the Louisiana county, he keeps messing around with her to the point of going to San Francisco to attend parties that both she and her husband attend. This on a salary that Bridges’ character says is a bit short of $20,000. The husband (Wayne Rogers) is understandably concerned about the fact that this Louisiana lawman keeps hanging around his wife, especially because the wife clearly likes Bridges’ attention.

As it happens, the husband has every reason to be concerned. His wife wants to murder him and marry Bridges, but the chief deputy sheriff kind of waffles on the idea. One night, the wife puts a knockout drug in the husband’s drink and invites her boyfriend over to finish him off. Bridges freaks out, telling his galpal that murder is wrong and should never, ever be done. They put the husband in bed, and he wakes up the next morning complaining of a hangover.

It is at this point that the movie lurches beyond the limits of believability. Bridges calls his gal and arranges for her to meet him at the abandoned lighthouse. There, he tells her that he’s decided for reasons too sensitive to share with the audience that he’s decided that she’s right; the hubby must die so that they can get married and live happily ever after. Not only that, but he’s also come up with the neat idea of doing it in such a way that he can use his position to frame Sutherland for the murder. In other words, the chief deputy sheriff has decided in about 24 hours or so that not only is murder OK, it's quite acceptable to frame an innocent man for a capital offense in Louisiana, where they take the death penalty very seriously.

Even more unbelievable is the fact that Bridges and his girl make their plans very loudly so that Sutherland, who by a random stroke of fate, is also in the abandoned lighthouse, hears everything. Being a psycho, he plans on killing the husband himself, framing Bridges for the crime, and then blackmailing the girlfriend into marrying him. Of course, he talks to himself so the audience will both know his plans and that he is indeed a psycho.

From this point on, the movie becomes a mess of cliches, even messier than the swamps in the Louisiana county. You can predict every subsequent development all the way to the dull climax. The movie ends with Bridges and his soon-to-be wife walking hand in hand down the road to their country estate in the sunset. Evil triumphs over evil, and life continues on in the Louisiana county just as it always has.

And some people wonder why folks in Louisiana have nicknamed their state “Lousyana.”

Editor's note: This review originally appeared on OMGN's former sister site FlickZone on Feb. 15, 2005.


Review Score


An R-rated motion picture, in the view of the Rating Board, contains some adult material. An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.

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