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I'm baffled by some of the reviews I've seen of this film. I saw it
this weekend and think it's really strong. Clive Owen and Jason Statham
are both excellent as... elite killers. The action is great, the story
is intricate and watching the plot unfold is just fun. You've got a
group of mercenaries on a dubious mission, a group of ex-SAS stumbles
on to them and then both sides are trying to figure out who the other
guys are and what they're up to. Maybe it throws some people that there
are no clear cut good guys and bad guys here. Both sides are
essentially bad guys acting out of a questionable sense of what is
right. But that's what made it interesting to me.
The film is at it's best when Owen and Statham are on screen together either coming after each other, fighting or staring each other down. Add a gun wielding, ass kicking De Niro into the mix and I'm happy sitting in a dark theater and munching popcorn.
I don't recall seeing a movie like this in a good, long time. It's a
macho-action-thriller that didn't have an A-list budget, but probably
didn't really need it, either. You used to see more of this back in the
70s and 80s; these days this kind of movie usually has a much bigger
budget, with the requisite special effects and massive action sequences
such a budget buys. Here, though, it's a little different.
Good action, intriguing setup (definitely no good-guy/bad-guy here; nobody is completely innocent by any stretch), and pretty good characters. And a story that's somewhat better than you usually find in this particular kind of film.
Don't know that Jason Statham's a great actor, exactly, but he's definitely a presence and he's got others to do the acting around him, and he performs in a several action scenes that come right up to the edge without getting silly. And I liked the basic plausibility in most of the scenes.
I'm a guy, and Killer Elite is a pretty decent "guy" movie. You could do worse.
I sensed what the movie-making powers that be were thinking when they
made this movie: Take 3 action stars + 1 super hot blonde = money.
Simple enough of a formula to get people in the theaters. My
expectations were not that high for this film. But what I found
reminded me of a "Bourne Identity" feel for some odd reason, but with
more action and less suspense. Injecting the film with reality was
Yvonne Strahovski, who made the story believable. I did like the whole
1980 thing the movie had going on as well, which some of these reviews
might've missed when they watched the film.
There are many memorable moments, none of which I'm going to tell you.
One of two issues I had with the film is the distance I felt with the characters. They felt close to each other on screen, but not close to me(if that makes any sense). I could've used 5 or 10 minutes getting to know the characters a bit better. Halfway through the film I realized I had forgotten all the character's names, and it was all facial recognition. Secondly, I could have used a bit more humor. I guess when making movies on real events it's hard to get a good laugh without coming off corny. I think they missed an opportunity there with Yvonne Strahovski's character.
I would've given this movie 7 stars, but it didn't seem right considering just how much enjoyment I got out of it and such a solid performance of the actors.
I'm not sure what it was about Killer Elite that disappointed me, but
it just didn't seem to live up to its potential. It might have been
that the movie relied on Jason Statham to act, instead of just do
action. He plays a retired hit man who gets pulled out of retirement to
save a friend's life. But it just doesn't work, he's unconvincing. The
retirement isn't convincing and neither is his reluctance to return to
work. He was much better in the Mechanic which dealt with similar
Overall the movie doesn't hold together very well. There is too much that they are trying to accomplish, but not enough gets developed. For instance, the romance between Danny (Statham) and Anne (Yvonne Strahovski) just seems to be cut in to the movie in a few places. The Feathermen (the group about whom the book the movie draws from is written) appear in a few scenes, yet they're role is barely explored. They are spliced in just enough to give Spike (Clive Owen) a support system.
It's not a terrible movie, but it could have been much more. I think it would make a better mini-series, so that the different parts could be explored properly. If not, eliminate the things that aren't given justice.
Decent acting from the supporting cast, an interesting story that is
thankfully absent any clichés, and a lack of any "gotcha" in the story
certainly help this movie stand out. But really it's the pacing that
made it for me. Things happen FAST. They happen logically, and
reasonably (well, reasonably given the nature of the story) but they
happen quickly. The movie does not have any periods of introspection
for our main characters. It suggests that they are having those
moments, but doesn't linger on them or play them up at all; they are
just facts, like everything else that happens in the movie (fights,
deaths, kidnappings, etc.).
The story is complicated, involving at least 5 separately motivated factions, but at no time was it confusing (so there was no need for an "aha!" moment).
The fight scenes were all exceedingly well choreographed and fit the story so well that there was never a time when 2 people were facing off just so we could see them fight; I really appreciated that.
All in all, a very satisfying film: lots of action, lots of very good acting, and lots of attention to detail (it really looked like it was the early 1980s).
I was going to give this a 7/10, but as I was writing and thinking about it, I upped it to 8/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Thoroughly entertaining and full of action much like Statham's
"Transporter" flicks except the plot is quite a bit more sophisticated
involving kidnapping and revenge killings by an Arab sheik, unexpected
double crosses and amazing chases, fights and escape sequences with a
gritty European/British flair and ambiance similar to "Taken".
The one thing I didn't like is a lot of the fight scenes are shot frenetically hand held and close up with very few pulled back master shots so you can see the choreography and tricky Krav Maga style self defense maneuvers similar to what was depicted in Statham's first "Transporter" movie which was the best out of the series IMO in this regard.
I mean I kept asking during the "Killer Elite" fight sequences..."What did he just do to that guy? I couldn't see it! Dang it!" instead of "Did you see what he did?! That's amazing!"
Oh well, at least I enjoyed this one more than "MoneyBall".
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning
** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Set in 1980, Killer Elite is based on a true story, revolving around SAS agent Danny (Jason Statham) who owes everything to his friend and mentor Hunter (Robert De Niro.) So when he is taken hostage in Oman, Danny is forced to co-operate with the kidnappers demands: that the three soldiers responsible for the death of his son are hunted down around the globe and killed. But even when he goes through with the mission, he finds, as well as having to contend with the relentless Agent Spike (Clive Owen) that not everything is as it seems.
Holding true to it's claim of being a story spinning all round the globe, Killer Elite literally dashes with hyperactive energy from the deserts of the Middle East to the Australian outback, to European cities like Paris and London, all the while holding it's accolade of being a true story. But then fact is often stranger than fiction, and the exploits of Britain's elite special forces could no doubt throw up even stranger tales.
This is a slick, stylish enough film, that carries off it's various action sequences and tense moments with the requisite style and aplomb, even if it doesn't generate the amount of suspense it could have and the whole thing does feel a tad disjointed and sporadic.
Performances wise, Statham is simply the reliable sturdy action hero, while De Niro in support commandeers another generic performance and Owen as the adversary can resort back to his old wooden ways. Not a lot to write home about on that front, then, but thankfully it's not a film driven by this aspect and so the more superficial stuff that carries it through.
It's a messy, chaotic, sketchy and unbelievable (even for something based on a true story) film, but entertaining and enthralling enough to be well worth a watch. ***
Robert DeNiro was the greatest actor of his generation. He brought a
new intensity to method acting during the New Hollywood era of American
film making . His star started fading in the early 1990s and by the
turn of the century critics would be scratching their heads as DeNiro
would appear in cameo roles in films that would surely have gone
straight to video . Why he did this no one knew . It certainly couldn't
have been to do with the simple reason of money but his prolific small
appearances in sub standard movies has long ceased to be a joke and has
affected his legacy . KILLER ELITE continues this career legacy suicide
There's something ridiculous watching a a 68 year old DeNiro getting in to a shoot out with bad guys but ridiculous doesn't even begin to describe KILLER ELITE a thriller based on a " true story" by former SAS soldier , explorer and adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes . Apparently in the early 1980s an Arab sheik upset that his son was killed by the SAS during the battle of Mirbat wants revenge .
The battle of Mirbat has passed in to British military folklore where a 9 man SAS team deserted by 40 Omani soldiers had to fight off 300 communist guerrillas in Oman circa 1972 . This battle is proved fact and Fiennes would have had more credibility if he'd presented his source novel The Feather Men as fiction . As it stands he was disowned by the regiment and journalists had a field day pointing out the unlikely occurrences in the novel . Of course many of the details can't be disproved but that's often the point of people publishing books that are fiction masquerading as fact. It should be remembered DeNiro also made a cameo in SLEEPERS another film based on a true life story that was quickly debunked
Watching a film based on a true story where you believe it to be fiction is a very irritating experience . Much of the selling point of this type of movie is that it happened in reality but you feel you're watching a cinematic adaptation of one of those books you buy at an airport while you have a very long plane journey in front of you . That's the impression I got while watching the film - a sort of pot boiler with guns , guys and car chases If the premise itself is irritatingly unconvincingso are the accents . This is a Hollywood /Australian co-production which means many of the actors are Aussies putting on English accents . Much of it is almost certainly filmed in Australia but I will restrain myself from using the word " obviously " because the director often uses establishing shots as a close up . Likewise action sequences are shot in close up too trying - and utterly failing - to convince the audience that the action is taking place in Britain . In fact when you do fleetingly see a sequence shot in Wales it jumps out at you because it's in long shot
This is a very disappointing thriller and much of this is down to the original source which exists more in the mind of the author rather than the real world . Even so if it had been promoted as a generic fictional revenge thriller it would have probably been criticised as being a rip off from Tom Clancey or the Bourne movies
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I like Jason Statham a lot. I respect Robert De Niro. I even like Clive
Owen. The trailers looked absolutely spectacular. The movie's promise
was a tense, fast-paced actioner with the added bonus of the three main
leads in direct conflict with each other.
The movie is something totally different. For one thing, it's morally very blurry. There are no real good guys. Although one roots for Statham's character, because he is a little less bad than the others, he is still a killer. (Do the moral math: reluctant murderer = murderer.) De Niro likewise, a murderer but slightly less reluctant than Statham. That makes them heroes? Not so much.
But even that aside... wow. Were they unable to hire a decent stunt coordinator, or were they unable to hire a decent cameraman? Or both? Anyone who's ever seen what Statham is capable of will immediately groan with his first fight-scene. The camera director is evidently of the school of thinking that goes "Shaking a camera during a fight really heightens audience enjoyment." No, it really doesn't.
The plot goes here and there, builds to sort of a climax, then another sort of a climax, and then just... ends.
My advice: watch the trailer which is positively misleading, and repeatedly so a few times, and call it good. The trailer is much better than the movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm not sure, but I believe the working title for this movie might have
been "Super Killer Elite Squadron Delta Awesome". But like seasoned
movie-makers they opted for a much more "mature" title: "Killer Elite".
It sounds like an 8 year old boy had suggested the title, and as you
watch the film, you begin to realize that perhaps an 8 year old boy may
have written it as well.
First off, I'll give the film credit for making some interesting fight scenes. Good, now that we're done with the positive aspects of the film, let's dive into the bad.
The story seems to be disjointed; the plot is all over the place. We may wonder whether it was written by an 8 year-old because the story is told sort of like this: "Okay, so there's these guys okay, they have guns, then uh, they shoot the guy, but then there's a kid in the car, then he gets shot okay, and then, he quits, but he doesn't really quit, and then they take his friend, and then he has to come back, and then his kills everyone and then..." Excellent! Stop. Let's make that a movie!
But it's not only that, the motivation doesn't seem credible. I mean, he isn't killing half a dozen people for money, nope! He does it to release his old partner. That would be fine, if the film actually demonstrated that they worked together, that they have some sort of bond, any reason to be believe they are somehow fused together, blood- brothers of sorts. Well, that's not it at all. Instead the movie opens to them shooting people then ... We are supposed to fill in the blanks... a great load of blanks. It's a crossword without hints.
Then there are characters that just are. They are nothing more than pylons. For instance the client's son just has absolutely no point to the story. He doesn't motivate, he doesn't provide action or incentive, nor does he bring the story forward. Even when the story gave him a chance to act, he doesn't. If anything he is more like a pylon that the road crew forgot. He's just there, a figure someone forgot to take away.
And then there's Statham's character, who is just like every other character ever portrayed by Statham, the unemotional-cookie-cutter "action-hero". Don't get me wrong, it's awesome, but it doesn't go any further than that. His objective is to kill a series of men in the SAS to avenge the killing of the client's sons. So, they kill one, kill another, then a third, but suddenly he goes Batman on us, and for some reason doesn't want to harm anybody anymore. He changed his ways. But why? Answer: (info not available).
Something that was hilarious was that the story is based on a "true story". I'm going to put true story in quotations, because the plot is based on a tell-all novel some guy wrote. Although no one can either confirm nor deny any of the information. So the term "based on a true story" is used pretty openly. To be more specific the opening title could have opened with: "based on the ramblings of a man that claims that his story is true although nothing has yet been confirmed". If my neighbour tells me he was abducted by aliens, I don't take his story and make a film about it claiming it all to be true; no, instead I call the psychiatric hospital hot-line. But it's the age of conspiracies, big government, covert-ops and it's all so sexy.
Then, just when you think the film is over, Boom! A twist that no one would see coming, nor would they want to. Then the movie keeps going, for another 20 minutes more than necessary.
In all, everything is below par. For a film with such a spectacular and talented cast, "Killer Elite" shoots and misses.
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