Bryan’s Movie Review: KILLER ELITE
Published: September 23, 2011 - 1:34pm
This spy actioner tries to keep things simple and, for the most part, succeeds in delivering an engaging movie. The movie is set in the early eighties and looks as if it was shot then as well and it works well, helping to give some realism and gravitas.
Adapted from the 1991 controversial book called The Feather Men whose “true story” veracity has been denounced by many, Killer Elite is centrally about a mercenary killer named Danny (Jason Statham). He has retired due to his recent disdain for the job. He is dragged back in when his old partner Hunter (Robert DeNiro) gets held for ransom in a deal gone bad. The sheik who has him doesn’t want money though, he wants revenge.
In order to be freed, Danny must go back to his old life and kill the three different men who killed three of the sheik’s sons over the years plus he must get a videotaped confession from them before he does. Through it all, Danny must contend with secretive government agencies, cutthroat agents and a powerful, shadowy group known as The Feather Men including their top operative Spike (Clive Owen).
Statham and Owen play the central parts here and are both are solid. Statham, usually a tad overdone in simmering anger and outrageous stunts in his starring vehicles, is a little more subdued as the anguished hitman who is tired of all the killing. Owen, typically the cool debonair one, is slightly amped up as an ex SAS soldier who doesn’t know what to do other than being an angry dog on a leash.
DeNiro, absent from the screen in much of the movie, continues to plod through this role like most of his recent acting choices. He is not bad but with an actor whose body of work is so impressive, you know there could’ve been so much more. The recently turned 68 year old does show he’s still got a little gas in the action tank and gives the audience a nice moment to cheer for. Dominic Purcell really shines as Davies, a ruthless, and rather amusing, member of Danny’s team. With his big “biker style” moustache and sideburns and somewhat bloated appearance, you can barely tell it is him.
This is director Gary McKendry’s first feature and I really like his approach. He is not afraid to let the camera linger on a sequence to let you take it in rather than rapid fire edited action scenes. He also co-wrote the script along with Matt Sherring and that is where it does struggle some.
Interspersed through all the action, espionage and testosterone we see clips of Danny’s attempt at the simple life refurbishing his childhood home and where he cozies up to his outback neighbor Anne (Yvonne Strahovski). They really struggle on trying to insert her into the story and either a lot more should have been done with that role or it could have just as easily been excised. Other than that, Killer Elite stays true to its own plot line and is a really entertaining film to go see at the theater.
Inspired by true events, Killer Elite is an action adventure spy film following Danny (Statham), one of the world's most skilled special-ops agents. Lured out of self-imposed exile to execute a near-impossible feat of retribution and personal salvation, Danny reassembles his old team of operatives to help rescue his former mentor (De Niro), and to penetrate the highly feared and respected military unit, the British Special Air Service (SAS). Facing off against a covert group of ex-SAS soldiers known as “The Feather Men,” who, under their leader Spike (Owen), provide a deadly cloak of security around all SAS members, Danny and his team must take down a rogue cell of solider assassins before their actions result in a global political meltdown.
The film's whirlwind action crosses the globe from Australia to Paris, Wales, London, Dubai and Oman. The story is based on Sir Ranulph Fiennes' controversial non-fiction novel "The Feather Men."
Killer Elite, overseen at Open Road Films, stars Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Yvonne Strahovski, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Dominic Purcell and Robert DeNiro. Directed by Gary McKendry, it opens today-September 23rd.