CliqueClack Flicks

Killer Elite – An uneven action flick that falls apart in the end

Killer Elite - Theater Review
Release Date: 09/23/2011 - MPAA Rating: R
Clacker Rating: 2 Clacks

'Killer Elite' is a movie that is very close to working, with intriguing moral dilemmas and decent action sequences, but falls apart under its own weight.

Killer Elite

I’ve been going back and forth on this one. It’s the sort of thing that isn’t what I’d call a GOOD movie, and at times it’s actually a decently ENTERTAINING one. But … I don’t know, really. Time spent away has only left me with additionally mixed feelings on the subject, but here goes nothing …

The story of Killer Elite is more complicated that it needs to be, in point of fact. Loosely based on the book “The Feather Men” by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, which is somewhat controversially based on real life events about assassinations of former SAS (Special Air Service) members orchestrated by a Dubai sheikh, the movie takes place in the early 1980’s, where ex-SAS Danny Bryce, played by Jason Statham (Snatch, Crank) is forced to come out of retirement to assassinate several other former SAS members. The leverage is the kidnapping of his mentor Hunter, played by Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, Meet the Fockers), who is back to classic macho form here.

But at the same time, a secret group in the UK called “The Feather Men,” dedicated to protecting former SAS and their secrets, is trying to prevent and then avenge these deaths, led by yet another ex-SAS, Spike, played by Clive Owen (Sin City, Inside Man). As you might imagine, Danny’s useless love interest, played by Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck), gets involved in some ways too boring to relate. Soon enough, many scenes of violence ensue, followed by very predictable twists and eye-rolling plot developments. You know a scene is far too expository when it consists of someone walking in a circle talking about a secret conspiracy.

So here’s the inside scoop. Jason Statham plays a classic thug, which he can do well, and has done often already — he actually comes out pretty well against the far better actors of Clive Owen and Robert De Niro. The good news is that the action scenes are pretty fun to watch, and are often well shot and edited, without the frenetic pace too many movies tend to have these days. The supporting characters are mostly amusing, although Yvonne Strahovski’s love interest character is pretty awful — no fault to her really, but the character is written quite badly. The romance story seemed to serve to humanize Danny’s character, but I felt it was unnecessary.

The best part of this movie is the moral ambiguity between the two primary protagonists. Danny is a reluctant killer protecting his loved ones, and Spike is a loyal friend doing the same. That much I like. But I can’t honestly say that this is a well made film; it really just falls to pieces the more it approaches the climax. I must’ve rolled my eyes half a dozen times at the various hackneyed lines and cliches, played completely straight, that kept accumulating.

As an escapist sort of movie, it’s not the worst — there are enjoyable moments, if you can’t ignore the oft circuitous and unnecessarily complicated plot and execrable romance. Sometimes it’s fun just to watch Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, and Clive Owen perform ultra-violent feats. Better luck next time, fellas.


Photo Credit: Open Road Films

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