Review of Gary Kendry's Killer Elite, starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro.
There are noble filmmaking intentions behind "Killer Elite," the new action film which stars Jason Statham, Clive Owen, and, surprisingly, Robert De Niro. It tries to be complex and emotional, whilst remaining a kick-ass action film. Ambition is important, of course, because who amongst us isn't interested in a complicated, realistic film that delivers the goods? Sadly, however, this is a movie that wants to be "Heat," but it just isn't hot enough.
See, the complexity of Gary McKendry's movie should be in the plotting, but instead it's all in the exposition. Statham is Danny, a hit man who tried to get out of the game, but found himself dragged back in after his mentor, Hunter (De Niro) is kidnapped by an Omani sheikh who wants revenge on the British SAS soldiers who killed his sons during the long-standing conflicts in that region. Danny's got a tough choice. If he doesn't act, Hunter will be killed. But the task isn't simple. He needs to force confessions out of three different men, and then murder them in such a way that it looks like an accident. So he does what any hired killer would do—gets the band back together and goes hunting. The band, in this case, is his posse, made up of a couple of other guys who have no qualms about killing. The thing is, there's a secret society of former SAS guys who aren't so interested in having their numbers rubbed out. They've got a tough guy, too—Spike (Owen)—a retired soldier who doesn't want to be left out of a fight. Did you get all that? It's Statham versus Owen, and the prize is De Niro.
What it comes down to, though, is Statham and his buddies tracking and killing guys who, for the most part, have been out of the military for years, while Owen and his buddies try to figure out just what the hell is going on. Each murder—and let's be honest, that's exactly what these are, cold-blooded murders—is really just a bridge, a mission or a task that gets Danny closer to what he wants but doesn't really move the plot forward. I mean, all Danny wants is Hunter's freedom and the ability to go back to Australia and get with Anne (Yvonne Strahovski of "Chuck"). Owen, on the other hand, just wants him dead. Sure, it's supposed to be a face-off between two tough guys, but the unfortunate reality is that "Killer Elite" is really just a bunch of decent action sequences (and yeah, some of them are pretty cool) stitched together in an episodic structure. It definitely feels like the presence of De Niro is designed to invoke Michael Mann's classic crime thriller, but in the end, "Killer Elite" is too formulaic to break out of its action movie chains. Its ambition only serves to magnify how simplistic the movie is at its core. After all, this is a movie called "Killer Elite." At the very least, when it comes to the title, you get what you pay for.
Genre/s: Action Thriller
Release Date/s: September 23, 2011 (Showtimes & Tickets)
Distributor: Open Road Films
Production Company: Current Entertainment, Ambience Entertainment, Omnilab Media
CAST and CREW FOR Killer Elite
Starring: Clive Owen, Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Yvonne Strahovski, Dominic Purcell, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Grant Bowler, Michael Dorman and Ben Mendelsohn.
Directed By: Gary McKendry
Written By: Based on Ranulph Fiennes' novel called "The Feather Men"
Produced By: Michael Boughen, Joni Sighvatsson, Steve Chasman
Killer Elite SYNOPSIS:
After his mentor (Robert De Niro) is taken captive, a retired member of Britain's Elite Special Air Service (played by Jason Statham) is forced into action with a mission to kill three assassins dispatched by their cunning leader (Clive Owen).
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