Tuesday, September 27, 2011

‘Killer Elite’ – Passable action flick…

‘Killer Elite’, the new Jason Statham (The Transporter, pick a number) action flick, starts out with the tag line that reads: ‘Based on a true story’, hmmmmm.  The ‘true story’ is the 1991 novel by Sir Ranulph Fiennes , ‘The Feather Men’; a novel where the claim of truth has shrouded the book since it was published. In reality, it is just another steroid pumped action film with the clever bonus of Robert De Niro (who seems to be slumming more and more in films; I mean this is the same man who won an Oscar for ‘Raging Bull’!).

Jason Statham is ‘Danny’ (that’s it, just ‘Danny’, he’s that cool) a contract killer that is by far the most elite of killers. While working with his partner and mentor Hunter (Robert DeNiro), Danny becomes tired of the killing game and opts to drop off of the grid to build a new life in Australia while beginning a burgeoning romance with a childhood sweetheart, Anne (Yvonne Strahovski from ‘Chuck’). Of course, just when he begins to think he is out, he is pulled back in again (man, I love my Godfather references!) by an irate sheik who has kidnapped Hunter in a bid to force Danny to complete a job. Apparently, a group of very highly trained British soldiers killed the sheik’s three sons during the Dhofar war and in order for the sheik to regain power; the deaths of his sons must be avenged.

The movie becomes a bit too complicated for a Jason Stratham film, which during the action sequences is top notch, but when trying to be a political thriller loses its appeal. There are far too many players and far too many twists that make little sense. Essentially, the Dhofar war was waged by pin striped business men for the good of the common British oil needs (of course); the business men are protected by the former SAS agent Spike (Clive Owen) who happens to be on to the fact that Danny is killer behind the deaths of the former soldiers. There are plenty of nicely staged action sequences that director Gary McKendry tends to shoot too tightly, making some of the more balletic scenes seem frantic. But they are fun and Statham, Owen and even DeNiro play the tough guys well.

‘Killer Elite’ brings nothing very new to the table. I thought there was more to do with the characters, especially characters that are sick of the ‘game’; far better was ‘Eiger Sanction’ an earlier Clint Eastwood film. From that perspective it missed the mark, but as a ‘B’ action movie, it was right on cue. If these events did truly happen, I doubt they happened in this fashion. Either way, it’s a 2 ½ star effort that was fun to watch (at moments). I still feel bad for DeNiro, who once, at the top of his game, would never be caught dead in a film like this.

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