Kills On Wheels
Films that put disabled characters front and centre are few and far between, and even more scarce are those that present them as anything more than props for story arcs or as the means for able- bodied actors to replenish their trophy cabinet come the awards season.
Rather refreshingly, Kills On Wheels – the second feature from Hungarian director Attila Till – avoids both pitfalls, creating something that avoids sentimentality while never encroaching on exploitation territory. It follows two friends, Zoli ( Zoltán Fenyvesi) and Barba ( Ádám Fekete) as they buddy up with wheelchair- bound hitman Rupaszov ( Szabolcs Thuróczy) on his homicidal escapades.
Both Fenyvesi and Fekete have the same disabilities as their characters, and, especially in the case of the former, this makes their portrayals far more believable. Zoli’s background – he’s in dire need of a live- saving operation but is reluctant to accept it owing to the fact that it’ll be paid for by the father who supposedly abandoned him – adds credence to his sudden attachment to Rupaszov, who is both a surrogate father figure and a source of adventure that the two have never had at the rehabilitation facility where they live.
At this point it would be wrong not to mention Thuróczy’s performance. While Zoli and Barba embrace the opportunity not to be confined, Rupaszov uses his wheelchair as both a shield and a camouflage – the air of helplessness he deliberately exudes frequently proves fatal to his bounties. Initially dismissive of his two charges, eventually he comes to need them as much as they need him – which is touching enough, but it threatens to mire the film in the same sentimentality that it had avoided before.
Ultimately, the central message is a fairly perfunctory one of overcoming boundaries and living life to the full ( not to mention that crime isn’t a closed society), but in this day and age this kind of message seems far more relevant than it did previously. Classic action flicks like Leon and Terminator 2 are clear sources of inspiration here, and ones that
Till melds with his own ideas to produce something that is both evocative, socially conscious and downright entertaining.
So while Kills On Wheels isn’t quite as original as its initial description would appear to suggest, there’s far more meat on its bones than is made clear, and for that reason it comes highly recommended.