Movie Review: Killer Elite (2011)

Three action heavy hitters assemble for an action adventure film that involves assassinations, betrayals, surprises and intrigue.

Jason Statham stars as Danny, a member of Britain’s Elite Special Air Service who just wants out. He is forced into one last job when his mentor (Robert De Niro) is taken captive by a mad oil sultan.

To secure his mentor’s release and safety, Danny must kill three of the world’s top assassins as payback for the deaths of the sultan’s sons.

Danny’s mission takes him from London to the Middle East where he must not only find the assassins but also take down the cunning leader (Clive Owen) of a secret military society, known as the Feathermen. May the best man live!

Oscar nominee for short-film live-action director Gary McKendry takes on quite the film for his first Hollywood feature. Having to tussle with the likes of De Niro, Owen and Statham would be an undertaking for even a seasoned director. But the man seems to deal with spies, assassinations and intrigue with such ease.

There is a lot of good in this flick. Statham’s crack squad of Dominic Purcell and Aden Young show another side of the assassination game. Statham’s devotion to his mentor is quite relatable. And well Statham continues to dominate as the top action star of the past decade. He does have some nice fun action moments. Even De Niro’s short screen time even feels good especially his fun subway scene with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

I liked the fights between Statham and Owen and they felt a lot more epic than say Fast Five’s testosterone-fueled fight between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson.

One thing I was surprised about was how much I liked Clive Owen as the villain. It kind of reminded me of his brilliant but small role in “The Bourne Identity”. I liked Clive the intelligent, yet relentless thug.

So, what is wrong? Well the movie’s length especially in the middle feels forced and the pacing of the film is thrown off as soon as Statham completes his mission. Once the mission is complete, you say what do you mean there is still 45 minutes left?

This movie is supposed to be tight, slick and unforgiving so meandering isn’t good for an action flick. There are also places that seem like missed opportunities. Like the whole token love interest (Chuck’s Yvonne Strahovski) story just seems to be force fed into the movie. Why must there always be one? Either make the woman strong, have a brain and add to the story or we just don’t need the cliche. Not to mention that awful coffee shop scene where De Niro assures Strahovski that Statham will come back alive. Blech!

Then there is also the ending that can be interpreted two ways. One, this was the end of the story in the book or another they could be looking for a sequel. Either way, it’s anti-climatic for what could have been a razor-sharp finale.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer



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