Movie Review: Killer Elite

Killer Elite contains a lot of elements that make a good action flick.  It has some good manly actors: Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen, Dominic Purcell, and Aden Young.  It has guns and explosions.  It has war and revenge.  It has covert operations and secret circles.  It has the token chick, Yvonne Strahovski, who calms the good-looking main character into becoming a better man.  What the film lacks is anything that kept my interest for entire film.

The aforementioned male actors are all part of an elite force tasked to carry out assassinations as directed by somebody.  I did not pick up on that at all during the film.  I thought these guys were killers for hire, not some official group.  After the assassination that is depicted during the first minutes of the film, time passes and most of the group retires.  Robert De Niro’s character, Hunter, is the most senior of the group.  He is reeled back into another job because he needs the money.  Unfortunately, the Oman desert tribe leader takes him captive.  This leads to Jason Statham’s character, Danny, to come and rescue him.  In order to save Hunter, Danny has to take on the tribe leader’s task which is to kill the men who killed his sons.  Danny takes the job and recruits Dominic Purcell and Aden Young to rejoin him in completing the job.  The reason the leader’s sons were killed was that Britain was at war with the tribe’s native country.  A lot of what happened is not well known and kept secret.

Enter Clive Owen who plays Spike.  Spike is a liason to the Feather Men or the group of men who ordered certain things to happen in the covert British war.  After some of the top men in the war start going missing or end up dead, Spike becomes suspicious and ends up figuring out what Danny and his crew are up to.

Killer Elite is based on true events.  The film is based on the book The Feather Men by Ranulph Fiennes.  The film is set in the 1980’s which is not evident from the movie trailers.  While many people will be interested to learn about the events told in the film as the majority of people probably have no idea they even happened, the film is not presented in a clear, interesting, or even entertaining way.

While the beginning of the film is good and should set the tone for the rest of the film, the beginning is about as good as it gets.  As soon as Danny accepts the task to find the killers of tribe leader’s sons, the non-direct way of approaching the story begins.  The first kill is good as the team takes an inventive take on how to kill the guy and make it look like an accident.  Tile hammer, anyone?  Although the team is tasked with killing these guys, they have to get on camera that they are dead and that they actually killed the sons.  This is not a simple point and shoot assassination.  The team does find other interesting ways of going about their tasks, and that is the main thing that kept my interest.

The main complaints with Killer Elite are that it is too long and never ends.  The runtime is 116 minutes, and it feels like two and a half hours.  The film presents many false endings.  At different points toward the end, the film presented itself as being near the end only to have a twist or kink thrown in that makes Danny have to fly back to London or wherever from Oman yet again.  This guy has to have a ton of frequent flier miles.

The acting is okay.  As this is mostly a spy, action flick, there is not a big demand for great performances.  Those who are looking forward to seeing Robert De Niro kick some ass had better look elsewhere.  He is hardly in the film and does not kick much of anything since he is held captive for most of the film.  Dominic Purcell is the one guy I looked forward to popping up on the screen.  He plays ladies man who is a bit arrogant, but he plays a very large guy both in stature and personality.  This role is a complete opposite of his character in Straw Dogs, and it shows his range as an actor.

While I can see some reviewers really liking Killer Elite, it is too long and frankly not very interesting to watch.  It is not a great sign to see a film and not care what happens to any of the characters by the end of the film.  It is definitely not the worst film I have seen lately, but there needed to be a different approach to the story.  I am sure The Feather Men would be a fascinating read, but this is not a fascinating film.

I give Killer Elite 2 “feathers” out of 5.

by Sarah Ksiazek

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