When his mentor is taken captive by a disgraced Arab sheik, a killer-for-hire is forced into action. His mission: kill three members of Britain's elite Special Air Service responsible for the death of his son.
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Loosely based on a true story, Killer Elite pits two of the worlds' most elite operatives - Danny, a ruthless killer-for-hire (Jason Statham) and Hunter, his longtime mentor (Robert De Niro) - against the cunning leader of a secret society of former Special Air Service operatives('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 revenge and deception - where things are not always what they appear to be. Written by
The first film distributed by Open Road Films. See more »
The sequence featuring a car chase starting and finishing at the hospital featured many vehicles with license plates showing three numbers and four letters, a format which has never been used in England. See more »
The world is in chaos. The economic crisis continues as an oil crises looms. War rages everywhere. It is a time of revolution, assassination and covert operations.
It is 1980.
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Decent cast. Decent action. Terrible title. Average film.
History lesson: In the late 1970s the British SAS may or may not have committed some acts that blurred the lines of war and war-crime. Killer Elite takes the perspective of a novelist who wrote about the era and the alleged events in this film and takes the position of the former.
The film begins in 1980 with experienced, well traveled mercenaries Danny (Jason Statham) and Hunter (Robert De Niro) carrying out a job. A botched job. Danny decides on the spot that he is out of the game and 'retires' to Australia where he meets a young woman.
Retirement turns out to be less than a short holiday for Danny when he learns that Hunter has been taken hostage by an Arab elder. The Elder tells Danny of the death of three of his sons at the hands of the SAS and his wish to see the killings avenged before his death. If Danny doesn't make this so Hunter will die along with him.
As always there's a catch. The Elder is dying, likely to be gone within six months, and he wants taped confessions from each killer and evidence of their demise. Oh and they only know the identity of one of the killers, and each death must appear as an accident so as to minimise unwanted attention and possible reprisals against the Elder's remaining living son.
Get your lawyer to pick the bones out of that contract! Danny forms a small team with two other men, telling them both that they can split the bounty, all he wants is Hunter back. (To paraphrase one of the men at the time "Awwwww".) As they plot and conspire to locate and kill three separate highly trained soldiers they swiftly bring the unwanted attention and scrutiny of a group of ex-SAS men. A group who like to see their members remain low key and alive.
The group is lead by a committee but the leg work and ground ops are managed by Spike (Clive Owen), a skilled ex-soldier loyal to a fault to the SAS, and willing to do whatever it takes to prevent the loss of any of his colleagues.
Spike takes it real personal that other men want to see his men come to harm.
The film has interesting patches and a couple of worthwhile chase sequences but nothing that separates it from the pack. It contains a rich array of characters, greasy facilitators, aloof mystery men, dangerous shadowy types and rough and ready guys who only want a scrap, but only Danny and Spike as the 'team leaders' really have the chance to develop their characters. They also manage a three or four minute fight scene in a hospital ward that obeys the cinematic convention that demands faceless good and bad guys can be dispatched in one or two blows, but if you make the poster you can take and deliver 672 punches without bruising, bleeding or indeed breathing particularly heavily.
Danny, Spike and co criss-cross the globe in pursuit of each other, with each side simultaneously watching and being watched while stuffy old guys discuss a lot of hush-hush, need to know, touch the side of the nose with the index finger sort of stuff.
Killer Elite is a little too flashy and commercial for classic De Niro, and not flashy enough for classic Statham. The actual film is somewhere in the middle and therefore favours no-one including us the viewers.
Final Rating 5.5 / 10. A decent enough action heavy drama with a solid cast weighed down just a little by an over-abundance of one note characters, a formulaic plot (even if BASED upon true events) and a couple complete head scratching moments.
Example? Perhaps don't engage in a loud phone conversation some 6 feet from the guy you are talking about when you are behind a sheet of plastic when you know he is standing there?
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