Killer Elite (2011)

Action, Crime, Thriller
Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Dominic Purcell
When his mentor is taken captive, a retired member of Britain's Elite Special Air Service is forced into action. His mission: kill three assassins dispatched by their cunning leader.
A rote, utterly disposable Jason Statham vehicle that just happens to have Clive Owen and Robert De Niro in it.
  • Open Road Films Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 23 Sep 2011 Released:
  • 10 Jan 2012 DVD Release:
  • $25.1M Box office:

All subtitles:



Trailer:

Surprisingly Flat6/10
I'm not sure what it was about Killer Elite that disappointed me, but it just didn't seem to live up to its potential. It might have been that the movie relied on Jason Statham to act, instead of just do action. He plays a retired hit man who gets pulled out of retirement to save a friend's life. But it just doesn't work, he's unconvincing. The retirement isn't convincing and neither is his reluctance to return to work. He was much better in the Mechanic which dealt with similar issues.

Overall the movie doesn't hold together very well. There is too much that they are trying to accomplish, but not enough gets developed. For instance, the romance between Danny (Statham) and Anne (Yvonne Strahovski) just seems to be cut in to the movie in a few places. The Feathermen (the group about whom the book the movie draws from is written) appear in a few scenes, yet they're role is barely explored. They are spliced in just enough to give Spike (Clive Owen) a support system.

It's not a terrible movie, but it could have been much more. I think it would make a better mini-series, so that the different parts could be explored properly. If not, eliminate the things that aren't given justice.
For what it is, actually pretty good.8/10
I don't recall seeing a movie like this in a good, long time. It's a macho-action-thriller that didn't have an A-list budget, but probably didn't really need it, either. You used to see more of this back in the 70s and 80s; these days this kind of movie usually has a much bigger budget, with the requisite special effects and massive action sequences such a budget buys. Here, though, it's a little different.

Good action, intriguing setup (definitely no good-guy/bad-guy here; nobody is completely innocent by any stretch), and pretty good characters. And a story that's somewhat better than you usually find in this particular kind of film.

Don't know that Jason Statham's a great actor, exactly, but he's definitely a presence and he's got others to do the acting around him, and he performs in a several action scenes that come right up to the edge without getting silly. And I liked the basic plausibility in most of the scenes.

I'm a guy, and Killer Elite is a pretty decent "guy" movie. You could do worse.
The title says it all...10/10
I'm baffled by some of the reviews I've seen of this film. I saw it this weekend and think it's really strong. Clive Owen and Jason Statham are both excellent as... elite killers. The action is great, the story is intricate and watching the plot unfold is just fun. You've got a group of mercenaries on a dubious mission, a group of ex-SAS stumbles on to them and then both sides are trying to figure out who the other guys are and what they're up to. Maybe it throws some people that there are no clear cut good guys and bad guys here. Both sides are essentially bad guys acting out of a questionable sense of what is right. But that's what made it interesting to me.

The film is at it's best when Owen and Statham are on screen together either coming after each other, fighting or staring each other down. Add a gun wielding, ass kicking De Niro into the mix and I'm happy sitting in a dark theater and munching popcorn.
MUCH better than I expected8/10
I sensed what the movie-making powers that be were thinking when they made this movie: Take 3 action stars + 1 super hot blonde = money. Simple enough of a formula to get people in the theaters. My expectations were not that high for this film. But what I found reminded me of a "Bourne Identity" feel for some odd reason, but with more action and less suspense. Injecting the film with reality was Yvonne Strahovski, who made the story believable. I did like the whole 1980 thing the movie had going on as well, which some of these reviews might've missed when they watched the film.

There are many memorable moments, none of which I'm going to tell you.

One of two issues I had with the film is the distance I felt with the characters. They felt close to each other on screen, but not close to me(if that makes any sense). I could've used 5 or 10 minutes getting to know the characters a bit better. Halfway through the film I realized I had forgotten all the character's names, and it was all facial recognition. Secondly, I could have used a bit more humor. I guess when making movies on real events it's hard to get a good laugh without coming off corny. I think they missed an opportunity there with Yvonne Strahovski's character.

I would've given this movie 7 stars, but it didn't seem right considering just how much enjoyment I got out of it and such a solid performance of the actors.
Much better than I expected; excellent pacing8/10
Decent acting from the supporting cast, an interesting story that is thankfully absent any cliches, and a lack of any "gotcha" in the story certainly help this movie stand out. But really it's the pacing that made it for me. Things happen FAST. They happen logically, and reasonably (well, reasonably given the nature of the story) but they happen quickly. The movie does not have any periods of introspection for our main characters. It suggests that they are having those moments, but doesn't linger on them or play them up at all; they are just facts, like everything else that happens in the movie (fights, deaths, kidnappings, etc.).

The story is complicated, involving at least 5 separately motivated factions, but at no time was it confusing (so there was no need for an "aha!" moment).

The fight scenes were all exceedingly well choreographed and fit the story so well that there was never a time when 2 people were facing off just so we could see them fight; I really appreciated that.

All in all, a very satisfying film: lots of action, lots of very good acting, and lots of attention to detail (it really looked like it was the early 1980s).

I was going to give this a 7/10, but as I was writing and thinking about it, I upped it to 8/10.