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.