An Ethical Evaluation:
Joseph J. Green
Northern Arizona University
The Killers is a film about a gang who is willing to lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top. The film contains many examples of choices that many would find to be in a positive light and just as many that could be found in a negative light, morally.
The film opens with a couple gunman entering a restaurant looking to kill the Swede (Ole) by waiting at his regular restaurant. They decide to hold up everyone up the restaurant, while they wait for Ole, but when he doesn’t show, instead of killing all the witnesses, they decide to let them live. A morally righteous act, to let those live whom could pose a threat to their enterprise.
After the gunmen leave, it is revealed that Nick Adams, a patron of the restaurant who was held up with the rest, worked with Ole at a gas station. At great risk to himself, considering that Ole had gunmen after him, he runs to his friend’s home to warn him about the danger. What could be more morally sound than risk your own life for a friend?
Later in the film, there is a scene where Ole is thrashing about destroying everything in a hotel room when a maid walks in. Ole, out of his mind, busts open a window and prepares to jump. The maid quickly runs to stop him, in the name of God, in order to save his soul from sure destruction if he commits suicide.
The film also has a share of questionable at best, and condemnable at worst, choices that its characters make. It is revealed that some of the characters had participated in a payroll heist to steal over $200,000 with of money. If that itself isn’t enough, they even choose to shoot a security guard who was trying to stop them as they got away.
We later find that that a woman, Kitty, only cares for herself and has no moral character, a true classic villain. After the heist, she decides to double cross everyone to get the money for herself. Kitty tells Ole, who was involved with the crime, that he was being double crossed to get him to steal all the money for himself and that she would be with him. He does this, but, shortly after getting somewhere safe, Kitty steals all the money and takes off to reunite with Colfax (her current lover). Later, she also has no trouble leading the insurance investigator (James) into a trap while she ran away though a window in a bathroom.
There are many examples of moral and not-so-moral acts scattered throughout this film. Easily the most amoral person is Kitty. She double crosses everyone trying to get away and live the easy life with no regard for the lives of others. At the end of the film she even begs her dying husband to clear her name. Some choices weren’t so clear, such as shooting the security guard, considering that the guards shot first. However they were already in the wrong, therefore, they lost the right to defend themselves, morally or otherwise. The most morally sound characters were likely Nick Adams and the maid who attempted to save the life of someone who was either about to jump out a window during a fit of rage, or had gunmen going after him. To save the life of a friend, or to save the soul of an unknown man, what could be more morally sound?