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Killer Kid  

Everyone talks about the newfound brutality in kids today, but imagine a situation even more frightening. Imagine a situation where a minor is not just capable of killing, but is actually a trained professional assassin, devoid of sloppiness, and filled with the utmost control and coldness. And imagine this kid not even yet a teenager.

That's the situation in the 1994 French film Killer Kid, in which an Arab kid, all of ten years old, is trained by a terrorist group, and then sent to France on a mission to kill its Prime Minister. The terrorist group protests against what they see as unfair treatment of Arabic fundamentalists, etc. by the French government; unfair because they are being jailed for their violent protests rather than being taken seriously. So the terrorists hit upon a novel idea. They will train a child to become a professional killer, and send him to France to kill the PM. And nobody will ever get caught, because no one in France would ever even think of a child committing such a crime. Now you know this film is dated, because now no one anywhere would believe a child wasn`t capable of anything!!!! But I digress.

The most harrowing portions of this film are indeed at the beginning, as everyone surrounding the main child character does everything in their power to deprive him of his innocence. The kid was 'sold' by his own family, and is one in a group of children brought here in exactly the same way. One of the group's leaders tells the kids to leave behind everything which remind them of their youth, and one kid is removed because of the discovery of his attachment to his teddy bear. The remaining kids are put to a series of tests, culminating in a moment where the terrorists show the main character a "prisoner", who they claim has killed his father. The hope is that his brutal training would create enough rage and focus that he would quickly deliver the prisoner's death. And he is quite ready for it. He is the one they've been looking for. All these training exercises are grim enough for those who have never witnessed them, although they surely do not compare to Demi Moore's Navy training in G.I. Jane. But the interest and horror lies in the fact a child is doing this stuff, and unlike Demi, he doesn`t have the maturity or grasp of reality to understand which is real and which is a test. In fact, the kid has no idea the "prisoner" is actually one of the leaders, because he is naive and scared enough to believe anything an adult says. This is probably another reason the terrorists would like a child, for he can never question authority.

After what I suppose you could call his graduation into the class of professional killing, he is sent to France. Over there is an Arabic family, with a father who is a member of the civil service, and who assists the terrorist group in fulfilling their plan. The father has a child, and in order for the kid not to suspect, he is sent to a "friend" of the family, and the killer kid is to be considered another reletive. The Parisian kid is quite amused at this new kid, who acts nothing like his age, with his deadly somber attitude and his routine which befits a religious fundamentalist more than a growing boy. The Parisian kid, on the other hand, is the average loveable brat, who skateboards and breakdances, and likes to sneak the occasional cigarette and liquer, just to show he can act cool, or whatever. In a way, however, this kid is equally deprived of innocence, in that he also has a somewhat tough life. He obviously knows the harsh life of the streets, as evident in his friendship of sorts with a teenage crack addict, and at one point he tries to get drugs for her.

All this stuff I found very fasinating, and give high points to, but there is one thing about this film that is very problematic, and that is the ending. For one thing, it is a standard thriller ending, and gets away from the originality of the story just to create a tidy wrap-up. Another has to do with the Arabic kid`s own state of mind. Without giving away the context, the kid does actually kill a few people, with utter coldness and professionalism. The moments are far from gross or sloppy, obviously, because of the kid`s training, but are still chilling due to who is doing the killing. But the fact that nothing is made out of this but as part of a standard thriller ending is discourageing. How does the kid actually feel now that he has killed people? How will this color his personality for the rest of his life? How can he ever grow up to be a respectable adult with the raging of violence already seeped into his soul? These are questions which are never answered, and by not doing so, basically ruin any real power this film could have had.

But I will give this film three stars, because it tells me a story I`ve never imagined. It does manage to at least expose a situation which is apparently common in Third World and war-torn countries of kids being thrown into war. And that depiction alone is enough to create a tragic, often moving, experience.

David Macdonald

David Macdonald's Movie Reviews

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