Katherine Heigl would like you to know that she really disapproves of that fun thing you’re doing. Stop it right now, or she’s going to lose it. She’s been putting up with your shenanigans for too long, and unless you do something sensible—or disarm her with a little light banter—this relationship is over. The baby she’s carrying might not know its father. Ball’s in your court, mister.
Since Knocked Up, Heigl has swiftly ascended the ranks of bankable romantic-comedy stars—even willing the likes of 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth into bona fide hits—but her characters are all like the one described above, touchy and abrasive, exceedingly difficult to please. She’s the Marge Simpson of rom-com heroines: High-strung and forbidding, always the responsible one, given to tsk-tsking as a matter of course. Her persona made sense in Knocked Up, when dealing with a fixer-upper like Seth Rogen, but she throws a wet blanket over Killers, a cheap-looking Mr. & Mrs. Smith redux that amplifies the marital tension and tamps down the sexiness and sense of adventure.
It doesn’t help that Heigl partners up with Ashton Kutcher, who counters her brittle intensity with his usual lack of commitment. The two first meet in the French Riviera, where a newly dumped Heigl is vacationing with her parents (Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara), and Kutcher is carrying out his latest hit as a CIA assassin. It isn’t until three years into their marriage—per Mrs. Smith, in a generic upper-middle-class subdivision—that Heigl finds out about her husband’s double life, and with rival assassins coming after him on all sides, she has to process the news while dodging bullets.
From the start, Killers tries to establish Heigl as overly cautious and fastidious, presumably to have her cut loose later on. But she rarely seems to be having a good time. What made Mr. & Mrs. Smith appealing, as far as it went, was the chemistry between partners who are furtively excited about learning each other’s secrets, and enjoying this little jolt in a marriage gone stale. By contrast, Killers leaves Heigl and Kutcher to bicker over issues of trust and betrayal; being in danger causes more problems in their marriage than it resolves. Killers isn’t an entertainment, it’s a high-speed spat.