Film Festival Today

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Film Review: “Killer Elite”

Written by: FFT Webmaster | September 28th, 2011

Jason Statham (or his stunt doubles) demolishes two men while duct-taped to a chair. The entire movie has that kind of action.

KILLER ELITE may or may not be based on a true story. The source material is “The Feather Men” by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. If it is fiction, is Sir Fiennes knighthood an honorary title or did he rightly deserve it?

I’m willing to suspend a certain amount of belief in support of the demands for a thrilling, action movie. If it is indeed based on real facts, I went along until the ending regarding the $16 million dollars in a duffel bag.

There is a tried and true axiom – “No one left behind” – said in various ways. It was first said by Star Trek: Voyager’s Captain Janeway: There are three things to remember about being a starship captain: keep your shirt tucked in, go down with the ship, and never abandon a member of your crew.”

I know the United States Army Ranger Creed has a version: “I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy.”

After successful assassin missions with his pal Hunter (Robert De Niro), Danny Bryce (Jason Statham), has retired to a farm in Australia. The place is in shambles. It needs a roof. I guess professional assassin work has also been hit by the global recession. Damn! Just when I thought it would be a good part-time gig!

Hunter is still active in the field and hungry for that last job. Aren’t they all. Why not show the assassin at the peak of his career?

When Hunter is kidnapped in Oman by thugs working for a very sick sheik (Rodney Afif), Bryce cannot leave his comrade to rot in the sheik’s personal home prison. The conditions of releasing Hunter are straight-forward: Kill the men who murdered the sheik’s three sons, make it look like accidents, but first get their confessions on videotape. No phony iPhone confessions. The sheik has a VCR. Severed penises (see SWEET KARMA) will not do as proof.

The killers of the sheik’s sons were killed by a secret society of old British Special Forces men who control the strings of oil diplomacy. Britain cannot be besmirched by condoning political assassinations in the name of trade.

I do not know how Bryce keeps his mind on the task at hand. He’s always mooning over the girlfriend he left behind in Australia.

Bryce enlists the help of former teammates, Meier (Aden Young) and Davies (Dominic Purcell). When the team successfully orchestrates two “accidents”, Spike (Clive Owen), a retired Special Forces man, confronts the old guys. What is happening and who is behind this? Our guys are being picked off one at a time.

Without help or a nod from the old boys, Spike goes after the invisible assassins. Spike means business – he sports a no-nonsense moustache.

The constant fight scenes are choreographed in dazzling fashion. I believed Statham was doing his own fighting. Hey, what do I know about beating 2 guys while duct-taped to a chair? It looked possible. I do know that no one ever goes to the hospital after a severe beating in a movie. And Spike took quite a beating from Bryce.

Sure, De Niro is here for the paycheck. He’s a wildly successful restaurateur, founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, and runs a real estate empire. He’s the undisputed honorary mayor of New York City. Why should he act? We are asking too much of the man! Owen did make a commitment to his role as Spike, but the success of KILLER ELILTE does not fall on his shoulders. That responsibility rests with Statham.

The movie, written by Matt Sherring and directed by Gary McKendry, has its limitations as far as fine art goes. But I am a Statham fan, as long as he doesn’t do a romantic comedy with Katherine Heigl, drives a car very fast, and brings a high degree of CRANK adrenaline to a role.

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