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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
When Spikes leaves the van where Davies' dead body lies, the intersection on background is crossed by semi-trailer pulled by series 4 Scania truck. Scania introduced 4-series trucks in 1995. 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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Too long and the straight/generic telling doesn't really work with the complex motivations and moralities of the characters
Based on a true story, Killer Elite sees a hired assassin called back into duty when his mentor is held hostage by a powerful sheik who wants revenge on the SAS men who killed his sons. Danny takes the job in order to get Hunter released a job that involves getting the men to confess on camera before killing them in such a way that it looks like an accident and cannot be traced back. However the targets are a paranoid bunch and once a few questions are asked and one of the men dies, the secretive group behind the deaths put former soldier Spike onto the case, pitting the two trained killers against each other.
This film feels like a missed opportunity and more must have been hoped for it not least by the relatively big name stars that were involved. This is a tale of murky secrets, covert actions overseas, trained killers and the influence of money and power it should be much more interesting that it is here, but the decision appears to have been taken to make it as a straight generic thriller. This isn't really a problem in terms of some of the action because there are "good bits" in here, the problem comes from the fact that the material actually doesn't lend itself to this approach as much as you would have liked. So, for example, this sort of generic thriller really suits simple characters, simple plots and thumping action scenes but instead Killer Elite hands us with two groups, neither of whom are particularly "likeable", so the genre approach tells the viewer to root for the good guy but the plot gives us no clue as to who this is. I have no issue with murky and unlikeable characters, the problem is that the delivery of the film doesn't do anything with it and tries to force it all into a mould that it doesn't fit.
Fortunately the more dramatic sequences are still pretty good (not great, but good) and they come up reasonably often to allow the film to temporarily be the film it wants to be. Not often enough though, and all of them are damaged by the fact that the rest of the film around them isn't working as well and there is a lot of "other film", too much in fact and it runs a good twenty minutes longer than it can cope with. Much like with the recent film Blitz, Statham does his thing well whether it suits the film or not. He delivers what you expect him to and again maybe he is part of the reason the film is pushed to be something it is not. Owen appears to be more in touch with what the material should be and also does well with the mano-a-mano stuff that the film asks of him, but it is hard to watch him delivering on a complexity that the finished film had no interest in. De Niro is a solid presence because of who he is, but he is really phoning this in. Akinnuoye-Agbaje only has a small role but, as a fan of Oz who knows how good he can be, it is always good to see him in things.
There is a good story in Killer Elite but unfortunately all but the bullet points is lost in a telling that is trying to make more of a standard thriller and doesn't seem able or willing to do anything with the murky aspects of plot or characters. The end result is a so-so thriller with a so-so plot and performances that mostly don't really work. I wonder at what point in the production they started making it something it wasn't, but regardless when it happened, it did seem to happen and it is a shame because the story deserved to be told better than it was here.
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