Although there was a film in the 1970s called “The Killer Elite,” the two have nothing to do with each other. This movie is loosely based on Ranulph Fiennes novel, “The Feather Men.” The story revolves around Danny Bryce (Jason Statham), a retired assassin who is reluctantly forced to take a job to save his mentor, Hunter (Robert De Niro), from captivity.
The trailers seemed to imply that Clive Owen’s character is the evil villain of this film, but the story doesn’t really follow suit. Rather, his job is to protect the men that Bryce has been hired to kill. Not that it really matters, though, because the entire storyline was a convoluted mess that couldn’t even be saved by the usually strong action sequences of Statham.
This movie tries very intently to be something it isn’t. It hides under the guise of a politically-charged action thriller, but it is unable to deliver because it never gives viewers anything of actual substance to keep them interested.
In his directorial debut, Gary McKendry hasn’t given the audience much reason to rush back into theaters. The action sequences are choppy and mudded down, which is typical of Hollywood action these days, but I’ve come to expect more from Statham. The “Transporter” films had some of the most clear and easy-to-follow fight scenes I’ve ever seen.
However, during the first fight scene between him and Owen, there was so much shaking and in-your-face camera work that I almost couldn’t watch.
Of course, Bryce has an obligatory love interest in this film, played by Yvonne Strahovski of the TV show “Chuck.” I assume the screenwriters added this character as an attempt to establish sympathy for Bryce among the audience, but it fails miserably.
Her character has no clue about what Bryce is really like, or why he is always away from home. And yet, she stays by his side, regardless of that fact. I feel this movie would’ve been better without her; after all, Bryce is a contract killer, no matter how normal the director tries to make him seem.
The scenes with De Niro were definitely entertaining enough, and it was refreshing to see the old bad-ass do something besides the “Meet the Fockers” franchise.
However, he is locked up for a lengthy section of the film, and is used in large just to butter up Statham’s character and make him sound like the world’s greatest assassin.
I have to give Owen some respect for this role; he looked pretty haggard. I don’t think I could walk around with that horrible mustache weighing down my lip and a glazed-over eye, even if it was for a big Hollywood movie.
As “Killer Elite” drew to a close, I was definitely disappointed. This movie felt almost as unresolved in the end as it did in the beginning. There were just too many names and too many people trying to kill each other for the plot to not be weighed down.
The director clearly just used the star appeal of Owen, De Niro, and Statham to make this film look like something it’s not: a decent action movie.
If you’re looking for something worth the price of your ticket, this is not the movie. There are plenty of other movies I’d rather see.