Killer Elite * *


Director: Gary McKendry.
Screenplay: Matt Sherring.
Starring: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert DeNiro, Dominic Purcell, Aden Young, Ben Mendelsohn, Yvonne Strahovski, Adawale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, David Whiteley, Matthew Nable, Lachy Hulme.

Jason Statham is normally a ‘type-cast’ kind of actor that I normally steer clear of. It’s not that I dislike him personally but his films tend to be of a particular genre that I don’t much care for. All they seem to consist of, is the “The Stath” serving out his knuckle sandwiches on some stereotypical numskulls. For me, the draw to this film was my liking for Clive Owen and especially my personal favourite Robert DeNiro. Unfortunately, even those two couldn’t save this film from mediocrity.

Former assassin Danny Bryce (Jason Statham), is brought out of retirement to save his mentor Hunter (Robert DeNiro), now held captive by a Oman sheikh. In exchange for Hunter’s freedom, Danny must hunt and kill the SAS officers that the sheikh believes killed his three sons during the Oman war. Danny is certainly up to the job but it’s not made easy when another ex-SAS officer, Spike Logan (Clive Owen) is determined to keep what happened in Oman a secret.

Opening with an intense action set-piece sets this film up well and from the off-set, it promises to be quite a thrilling ride. Statham delivers his usual bad ass schtick and it’s great to see DeNiro flex a little of his (ageing) action muscles too. Once the initial 10 minutes of action is over though, DeNiro takes a back seat, Statham takes over and Clive Owen is brought into the mix of intrigue and espionage. Surprisingly though, it doesn’t deliver the action expected and the intrigue is less than… erm, intriguing. The film falls flat very early on and it seemingly has no chance of redemption. That is, until Statham and Owen finally cross paths in a brutal physical exchange that’s impressively handled and before we know it, the film has found it’s feet again. Or so it would seem for this fleeting moment of fisticuffs. After that’s over and done with, the film falls back into it’s not-so-comfortable formula and fails to ever resurface. Reportedly, it is based on true events (as reflected in ex-SAS and adventurer Rannulph Fiennes’ book “The Feather Men“) but whether that’s true or not, it still doesn’t add anything to the story. The delivery is just a bit too tedious which I found to be quite a conundrum in itself as the material should make for an exciting watch. Added to which, nobody really puts a foot wrong; Statham and Owen deliver the goods and solid support is given by DeNiro and Dominic Purcell from TV’s “Prison Break“; debutant director Gary McKendry also seems to be in command of his material and frames his film well. Sadly, it just doesn’t quite come together, which leads me to the conclusion that it’s the script that’s the major issue here.

This is the type of film that’s neither an out-and-out action movie or a complete spy thriller. It can’t seem to make it’s mind up and as a result will probably disappoint fans from both camps. At one point Statham says “Killing’s easy. Living with it is the hard part“: the same could be said of this film; putting it into the DVD player is easy, getting through to the end is the hard part.

Mark Walker


36 Responses to “Killer Elite * *”

  1. There are some good moments in this, but not enough of them. Decent rental for action-movie-philes, little beyond that, though.


  2. I have this blu ray ready to watch, and I love a lot of people in it, but average seems to be the word on the street about this film.

    Great write up as always Mark ๐Ÿ™‚


    • It wasn’t for me man. It started brightly but soon fell apart. Our man Bobby was good but ultimately underused as he so often is. Chalk that up on my DeNiro list man. That’s another one done ๐Ÿ˜‰


      • Damn pulling away now, Im gonna get Goodfellas done this week anyway, although it wont add to my score as Ive seen it about 600 times ๐Ÿ™‚


      • I do Goodfellas regularly myself. In fact, I watched it on TV a few weeks back. God knows how many times I’ve seen it now. Here’s my review that I posted ages ago if your interested?…

        Casino is one I need to revisit again soon.


      • Will check it out when I get a minute. As long as its number 1 in your top 10 we are golden ๐Ÿ™‚ My all time favourite film, as my review will show!


      • That #1 mantle belongs to The Big Lebowski as you know. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I remember reading that you rated Goodfellas as a favourite but most clues would point to Casino instead. What gives?


      • Fair enough, that deserves #1 also ๐Ÿ™‚

        Ill try explain in my review why Goodfellas is number 1, but Casino is right up there since it was what got me into movies and as explained in the ‘about me’ on my site was the influence for site name. Goodfellas just pips it, just!!


      • I’m looking forward to your review man. I’d like to hear more of your explanations on this. Get to work ๐Ÿ˜‰


      • Haha will do, will be watched again on mon or tues, then written and posted weds or thurs. I hopefully will explain my reasons! Casino is probably #2, with Lebowski #3. My top 10 would be a very close thing though, as you know yourself after your struggles with yours. Always changes ๐Ÿ™‚


      • You have The Big Lebowski as high as #3? that’s great to hear.

        I know what you mean on compiling a top ten, it’s a forever changing creature and very difficult to do.


  3. LOL at “At one point Statham says โ€œKillingโ€™s easy. Living with it is the hard partโ€œ: the same could be said of this film; putting it into the DVD player is easy, getting through to the end is the hard part.” I run into a lot of those in this line of work.


  4. Sorry to read this wasn’t better. I’m a huge Jason Statham fan and I still hope he will go back to things that aren’t action films like Snatch and London, but I quite enjoy his action movies. I may see this one when I have absolutely nothing else to watch.


    • I’m not a big action fan Sati but I don’t mind Statham at all. Snatch was an excellent movie and I’d love to see Statham do more like that.
      I’m a big DeNiro fan and I’ll always check out his films. Unfortunately it’s hard to find a great DeNiro film these days. I’m holding out some hope for some of his upcoming films though. Particularly, Silver Linings Playbook and Malavita.


  5. Never gonna see this so what can I say Mark? Loved Statham in Snatch also.

    Hey check out Compliance. Great minimalist film if you can stomach the disturbing subject matter. I can’t recommend it enough to those who like challenging filmmaking. Easily one of the best of the year. Wow. Look for Ann Dowd, the manager, to get some love come awards time. She just kills the last scene of the movie.

    Big thumbs up on Argo also.


    • You’re not missing much with this one Dave. That’s for sure.

      Compliance is now on my list. I had a look on Imdb as I’d never heard of it. It’s sounds good man. Argo has been on my list for a while but I’ve not had much of a chance to see recent releases these days. That’ll be me finally getting around to Killer Joe within the week. I’ve been dying to see that for ages but missed it in the cinema.


  6. Yeah the blog is gone for now. Just not enough time and you know how verbose I can be. Also I wasn’t getting very many hits at all so I ditched it after a few months. I mostly post on Ruth’s blog… and now yours. I don’t know how she keeps up with everything. I found her through IMDB’s now defunct Hit List.

    Speaking of long winded… this one took the cake. One time last year Ted S. guest posted on flixchatter about “disturbing films you might not have heard about”. Well my reply was twice as long as his post. LOL. He just happened to touch on a subject that I know A lot about. Check it out: . You can imagine how much time and detail went into creating my blog. I can’t help myself. Maybe I’ll start it up again.


    • You’re welcome to post anything here anytime Dave. It’s a pleasure to have your input.

      I looked over at that link you provided. That’s is a post within a post LOL.

      You make some good suggestions yourself there with that list. I’ve seen a few that you mention: Man Bites Dog, Funny Games (the US version), Irreversible, Touching The Void and I’ve had Doberman sitting on my shelf for years but never actually stuck it on. I should do that soon. If you lump it in with the rest of those great films then I’m intrigued to see it now. Thanks man!


      • Dobermann… the violence is so over the top it’s brilliant. It brought a smile to my face to my face more that few times. (I know I’m sick… lol) Other than Tarantino directing it I can’t see it being remade in the US anytime soon. It’s not known very well here at all because it was never released on region 1 dvd or been shown on cable. A rare find indeed.

        The German version of Funny Games was much better even though Haneke basically shot the same film over again. Unfortunately Roth, Watts and Pitt are too well known for me to believe the characters fates. The villians were particularly chilling.

        Maybe I’ll take you up on that post idea. Got any ideas on something you might want me to write about? I love a challenge.

        Oh yeah actually saw The Perks Of Being A Wallflower at my girlfriends insistance. It’s actually really good. Like John Hughes good. Emma Watson is such a doll I think she’s gonna have a long career ahead of her. Ezra Miller (We Need To Talk About Kevin… brilliant but disturbing beyond words) steals the show though as her gay step brother. It was set in Pittsburgh where I’m from so that was cool to be able to get all of the local references. I guess it would be like you watching Trainspotting or maybe The Acid House. Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl is a bit dated now but is probably more in line with the odd kid in high school story of Perks. Check it out. Surprise film of the year for me.


      • I’ll eventually get around to Doberman and also Haneke’s original Funny Games when I get a hold of it. I’ve still got a few Haneke films on my list.

        Perksof being a Wallflower was a film that didn’t really grab my attention but I’ll check it, since you recommend it. Like you say, it’s always a little more personal when you can relate to it’s setting. I tend to take more from Scottish films and have a trilogy of posts I’m working on at present of three great little Scots films I watched fairly recently.

        As for the post you might like to do, I don’t mind at all. I’ll have a little think on that but if you have any ideas already then fire away. It would be nice to add a little something different as I normally stick to a certain structure on here. Maybe something similar to that list you compiled on Ruth’s site? I don’t normally do stuff like that.


      • Personally my favorite Scottish films are Trainspotting (no brainer), Local Hero and Shallow Grave. Other pretty cool ones were Dog Soldiers, Red Road and anything else by Bill Forsyth. Does Breaking the Waves count? Also Kelly Macdonald was great in Stella Does Tricks playing a Glaswegian that prostitutes herself out in London.

        Perks is basically a 90’s version of some of the better John Hughes movies. Definitely worth a rent.

        As far as the lists I’m good with those. When I was younger quickly found that I liked films based on the director rather than a particular actor. ie Kubrick, Lean, Coppola, Gilliam etc. I had a movie book that crossreferenced each directors films and I’d go through them based on their rating. It got to the point where I’d burn through a video store and have to move on to a store further away because I’d seen everything that I wanted to see there. I’d go into a new store with my list and go through that. Thank goodness for the internet. I’ll see what I can come up with.


      • Trainspotting is one of my all time favourite films and I’ve met a few of the cast several times (Caryle and Mullan). My friend was in it briefly and I also ended up in a drunken fight with one of the smaller cast members. So it’s a film quite close to me in some ways. By the way, if you go into my index you’ll find a review I done of it in my native scottish Tongue. It’s makes for an interesting perspective. I also love Shallow Grave and Local Hero.
        You should check out some of Ken Loach’s Scottish films like Sweet Sixteen and My Name Is Joe. Good films and I also have a review of Peter Mullans NEDS, about Glasgow gang culture. Have a peek and see what you think.

        As for you doing a list, that would be excellent ad I’m sure would go down well. As I say, it’s not normally something I do on here. I’d like to but just don’t have the time with other little features that I run.


      • You know I have NEDS in my Netflix queue so I’ll be checking that out.

        I saw a film by Loach years ago called Riff Raff. The cockney was so thick that the subtitles were hard coded onto the VHS tape. LOL. Working class England… kind of depressing ya know? I should check out more of his stuff though. I really like Mike Leigh though.

        I read the review… lol. All I could do is picture Begbie saying it out loud. I’ve always been preferential to the Scottish and Irish brogues. I could listen to Kelly Macdonald and Elaine Cassidy talk all day.


      • Man, it’s been years since I seen Riff Raff. That was Robert Caryle too if I remember? Working on a building site? I really liked that but I’d love to see it again. Some of Loach’s stuff is superb. “The Wind That Shakes The Barley” is a good one about the origins of the IRA and “Land And Freedom” about the Spanish civil war.


      • Oh… And Breaking The Waves proably doesn’t count. Great film though.


  7. […] this supposed thinking man’s action flick. ย Check out my full review here and Mark’s here. […]


  8. I didn’t hate this one but it was an exercise in tedium, for sure. Total disappointment.


  9. Great review. I wanted to see the film after that awesome scene in the trailer where Statham kicks ass while strapped to a chair. Now I’m not sure if I should.


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