Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Killer Elite

Year: 2011
Director: Gary McKendry
Cast: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Yvonne Strahovski, Dominic Purcell, Aden Young

Plot: In order to save his mentor, a retired hitman is forced to take one last job. The task: kill three SAS officers who are connected to the British war with Oman. His mission however puts him in the crosshairs of an ex SAS officer tasked with protecting his comrades.

Review: Jason Statham has proven that he is a bankable action star. He may not be much of an actor, but he can kick ass like no one else can. While Death Race and The Transporter films are pretty much straightforward action flicks, Killer Elite is a bit different. For one thing, Statham doesn't end up doing ridiculous car stunts or fight off ten guys at once. And the plot is slightly deeper than the average Statham vehicle. And he shares nearly equal screentime with Clive Owen.

Supposedly based on a true story, Statham plays Danny Bryce, a hitman who yearns for a normal life with his girlfriend (played by Yvonne Strahovski). However, he gets dragged back into the game when an oil tycoon from Oman holds Danny's mentor Hunter (De Niro) captive, and forces Danny to kill three men in exchange for his freedom. It isn't easy though, since not only are the three men SAS soldiers, they are being watched over by Spike (Owen), a disgruntled ex SAS soldier who doesn't like the idea of his superiors not telling him the truth about these men.

Eventually Danny and Spike cross paths, and bad things happen, and people wind up dead. What's interesting is that the true story behind this film is being denied by the British, after Ranulph Fiennes releases a book about his government's war with Oman. It gives director Gary McKendry ample room to work a good plot around the action, rather than let the action drive the film. That doesn't mean that Killer Elite is boring though. There are still plenty of action sequences to behold, mostly fistfights, shootouts and car chases that aren't too bombastic.

Statham is still Statham here, doing what he does best with a grin, but he's mostly serious this time around. Clive Owen is dead serious as always, and manages to keep up with Statham for the most part. Robert De Niro brings his usual screen presence to the fore and it's always welcome. Strahovski, who constantly kicks ass on TV's Chuck, unfortunately does not do that here and merely looks gorgeous. Prison Break's Dominic Purcell gets the best lines playing one of Danny's comrades.

In the end, Killer Elite isn't quite what you'd expect from Jason Statham, but as an action movie, it still works. (4/5)

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