Action Movie Fanatix Review: Killer Elite

Action Movie Fanatix review banner for Killer EliteMay The Best Man Live

Starring: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Dominic Purcell, Aden Young , Yvonne Strahovski, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Director: Gary McKendry

2011 | 117 Minutes | Rated R

“Killing’s easy. Living with it’s the hard part.” – Danny

Killer Elite claims to be based on a true story but more accurately it is based on a controversial novel written by a man claiming to have been involved in the things seen in the movie. It’s called The Feather Men by Ranulph Fiennes if you’re a reader. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. Either way, I don’t care a whole ton. It makes for a very interesting story.

In order to save his mentor, ruthless hitman Danny (Jason Statham) is hired to kill three British Special Air Service operatives who are responsible for the death of an Arab sheik’s son. On Danny’s tail is another former SAS officer, Spike (Clive Owen).  The two trained killers are on a collision course for a violent showdown.

Killer Elite can probably be viewed in two ways. The first way is to completely turn off your brain and enjoy some sweet action scenes and to not understand what is going on with the plot. The second way is to fully engage. The problem with fully engaging is that you realize that there is actually a lot to the plot and a lot to all of the characters – and none of the characters are a clear cut good guy. The closest thing to a good guy is probably Clive Owen’s character, who has probably lost his marbles a bit and is treated like the bad guy the whole time.

The group of guys that the movie follows are Statham, De Niro and Purcell’s characters who are essentially just killing whoever they are told to by a middle eastern father looking to avenge the deaths of his sons. Not especially heroic.

This isn’t a Schwarzenegger style action flick. There are no one liners or super over the top kills. It’s more grounded and really playing off of that “Based on a True Story” tag line. That doesn’t mean it’s not exciting though. There’s plenty of gunplay and explosions to be had, they just have more set up than most straight-up action movies.

The problem for Killer Elite probably lies in its marketing. Had they marketed it as a something of a thriller rather than making it look like it was a return to ‘80s action, it might have been better received.

Was Killer Elite what I was expecting based on the advertising I had seen? Not quite. But I was still able to sit back and let it take me on the ride that the director intended and enjoy it for what it was rather than what I thought it would be.

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