Synopsis: Based on a true story, Killer Elite pits two of the worlds’ most elite operatives – Danny, an ex-special ops agent (Jason Statham) and Hunter, his longtime mentor (Robert De Niro) – against the cunning leader of a secret military society (Clive Owen). Covering the globe from Australia to Paris, London and the Middle East, Danny and Hunter are plunged into a highly dangerous game of cat and mouse – where the predators become the prey. – via IMDB
Based on the novel The Feather Men
by Ranulph Fiennes.
Release Date: September 23, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Thriller
Killer Elite stars Jason Statham as Danny Bryce, an ex-special ops agent-turned-mercenary who, after a botched job, decides to retire to the country. He is pulled back into the “business” when his friend and mentor Hunter (Robert De Niro) is kidnapped by an oil sheik (Rodney Afif). The sheik’s demands are simple – he wants the British Special Air Service soldiers who killed each of his three sons dead, he wants the deaths to look like accidents and he wants videotaped confessions from each of them. If Danny can accomplish the mission, he will earn six million dollars and, more importantly to him, Hunter’s freedom. Danny enlists the aid of two of his trusted allies and goes after the men. Unfortunately for Danny, another ex-SAS soldier named Spike (Clive Owen from Children of Men) notices that his colleagues are dying and, with his own team, sets out to stop him.
Based on the novel “The Feather Man” by Ranulph Fiennes and adapted for the screen by Gary McKendry (who also directs), Killer Elite is a surprisingly complex tale of extortion, blackmail and murder-for-hire. While not exactly a think piece, it does require a little bit of paying attention to understand why everyone is shooting at each other. The complicated plot is driven by the similarities between Danny and Spike, both badass killers who are trying to save their friends. Danny is the hero, but the same film from a different camera angle could just as easily show Spike as the good guy.
Killer Elite ends up exactly as advertised. It’s an action-packed fun-filled thrill ride. It’s a bit unfortunate that all of the action distracts from the plot, or maybe the plot interrupts the action. Either way, the storyline is packed with twists and turns that make it more than just a popcorn movie, but not too much more.
The acting in Killer Elite is a bit uneven, if only because it seems like the actors aren’t acting. Jason Statham plays the same character he plays in Crank, The Transporter, and The Expendables. Long gone are Statham’s days of Snatch – he has graduated from actor to Action Hero. Luckily for Killer Elite, he’s a very good Action Hero.
De Niro is typically good, but his role is the shallowest character in the film, so he doesn’t have much to work with and comes off as a caricature of himself. The best performance in Killer Elite belongs to Clive Owen. He proves that he is no slouch when it comes to action hero-ism himself. Owen keeps up with Statham stride for stride and punch for punch, but still seems to be holding back a bit as a villain, generating sympathy for the guy that the audience is supposed to hate. An action film is only as good as its stars, and, while Killer Elite has plenty of star power, its actors are capable of much more than the film asks of them.
Cinematographer Simon Duggan knows action – he’s worked on Live Free or Die Hard and I, Robot, and he knows how to keep an audience leaning forward in their seats. The action sequences in Killer Elite are the reason that the guys out there are going to go see it, and they don’t disappoint. From the first scene there are non-stop bullets, explosions and fists. The film features car chases, prison breaks, gun fights and assassinations – and that’s just the first twenty minutes. Duggan’s photography is cut together with perfect rhythm by editor John Gilbert (who is probably sick of Statham’s face, having also edited The Bank Job and Blitz) in a way that keeps the viewer’s pulse rate high and lungs out of breath. The action only lets up long enough for some pesky dialogue to explain why there is more action about to happen. In one standout scene, Danny beats the hell out of two armed thugs while tied to a chair before crashing through a second story window. Improbable? Yes. Unbelievable? Of course. Fun? You bet.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Gary McKendrySigurjon SighvatssonTony Winley
- Producer(s): Gary McKendryMatt Sherring
- Screenwriter(s): Jason Statham (Danny Bryce)Robert De Niro (Hunter)Clive Owen (Spike)
- Story: Yvonne Strahovski (Anne)
- Cast: Dominic Purcell (Davies) John GilbertSimon Duggan
- Cinematographer: Reinhold HeilJohnny Klimek
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USAAustralia