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Reel Toronto: Killshot

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

Here’s a film that should have been good. But it wasn’t. Killshot is based on a Elmore Leonard novel which, amazingly enough, starts off in Toronto at the Hotel Waverly. It was directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) and the cast includes Rosario Dawson, pre-Wrestler Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Johnny Knoxville was also in the film but his scenes were cut.
Yup, things went bad as the flick, filmed in 2005–06, was hacked to ninety-five minutes, producer Quentin Tarantino jumped ship, and after multiple release-date announcements it played on, like, five screens and slunk onto DVD in May. And yet it’s not quite as bad as all that might make you think. Overall, Killshot looks and feels like a real film but just kinda goes nowhere…except Toronto.

As mentioned, the book opens at the Waverly down on Spadina, and so does the movie! There’s no exterior shot but there is a bed and a title, so that counts for something, right?
And for a while, we’re kinda cruising in Torontoness. Heck, that’s actually Union Station!!
And that’s actually the now-closed, picturesque Hillcrest Motel which appears as itself and is even referred to by name as in, “I’m staying at the Hillcrest Motel.” Holy crap, Hollywood! You really love us! (Okay, it’s not really clear they’re in Toronto here, but you can see a 60 km/h street sign on Lakeshore Drive…)
The book shuffles across the Michigan–Ontario border and soon confusion starts to set in in the film. See, this car has Ontario plates…
…but the speed limit is in mp/h? Are they in the US or Canada? We’re not sure and we’re not sure they’re sure either. As evidence of confusion we submit that the sign actually says “MPH/H” which is as bad as saying “the NDP party.”
And how can you expect us to buy that Union Station is in Toronto but the Royal York, right across the street, is actually St. Louis??
And then you turn the camera a little to the left and shoot the Gardiner? That’s all Toronto, baby. We don’t suspect any other city wants to lay claim to that.
You think places outside Canada put maple leaves (not maple leafs, by the way) on the outside of their arenas?

Most of the shooting was done outside of the downtown area. This smackdown outside a real estate office was shot up at 12800 Yonge Street in Oak Ridges (that’s northern Richmond Hill for you city folk).
This scene was trickier to track, but ended up being closer to home. It’s a big shootout in a ruralish grocery store. And as the car pulls away, you can see this sign…
So, all you have to do is slip a 416 in where the black spot is, let Google have a shot, and BOOM, we find that we’re on Old Kingston Road. Number 287, in fact. That would probably mean the store interior is actually Kingston Grocers at #271. Yeah, that’s how Reel Toronto rolls.
It seems the fine people of Missouri were disappointed that these Cape Girardeau scenes were actually shot in Port Perry. The shot above is the real deal…
…but these main street shots are yours to discover.
Oh, well. Them’s the breaks! It’s especially funny (but not “funny, ha ha”) because they did shoot scenes down south but then re-shot them up here the following year when the film went off the rails.
When you have an Elmore Leonard yarn, you gotta expect some gangsters. For example, here’s a gangster dude hanging out in the always cool, film-friendly Monsoon.
In the book, there are some meetings on an island in between Canada and the US. This skyline shot almost threw us—after all, it’s framed without the CN Tower—but it only took a second to realize they’re out on the Leslie Street Spit.
Folks, Killshot is not a total loss. Between the Toronto-spotting and the bones of a good story it’s interesting to watch if for no other reason than to see how easy it is for a good movie to go bad.