Although it has plenty of action sequences, Killer Elite actually feels more like a slow-burn spy thriller than the normal Jason Statham flick.
Based on Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ 1991 novel The Feather Men, the film was directed by Gary McKendry from a screenplay written by Matt Sherring. The film stars Statham, Clive Owen, Robert DeNiro, Dominic Purcell, Aden Young, Yvonne Strahovski, Ben Mendelsohn, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
Set in the 80s, the film opens on Statham’s Danny, DeNiro’s Hunter, Purcell’s Davies and Young’s Meier as they do a hit on a man in Mexico. The hit goes just as planned until Danny is forced to kill the man in front of his child, hesitates and is injured in the getaway. Danny vows he is retired and heads off to Australia to start a new life – which includes a love interest in Anne (Strahovski).
Danny’s retirement plans are put on hold when he is sent a plane ticket and a picture of Hunter in captivity. It appears Hunter took a big priced job, but fled with the money rather than killing the targets. Sheikh Amr (Rodney Afif) is dying and he wants the SAS agents responsible for the deaths of his sons to be tortured into confessing their crimes and then killed. The agents must be killed in order for the Sheikh’s remaining living son to return home after Amr dies.
At first Statham attempts a jail break, but quickly sees that he will be forced to do the job if he wants a chance to save Hunter. Danny calls up his old pals Davies and Meier and convinces them to help him take down the SAS agents – even though it could in turn be a death sentence for them.
While the killers are lining up their targets, a secret society of former SAS agents put their enforcer Spike (Owen) on the case of tracking the killers and protecting their secret society. Spike takes the killings personally, and starts going beyond the call of duty to track down Statham and his pals. This leads to Spike being dismissed from the case – even though he continues his hunt. His pursuit of the killers also puts him at odds with the government and puts him in their crosshairs.
The trailers for Killer Elite focused on the film’s action sequences, but it is actually a slow moving spy thriller – even bordering close to the feel of Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film Munich. The fight scenes between Owen and Statham will more than satisfy the film’s action-oriented audience, but McKendry and Sherring fill the film with lots of tension as the killers get closer to their final target.
The film is extremely well acted with Statham handling the role of a tired killer pulled in for one final job; Owen going just slightly over the top so he walks the fine line of villain and hero, and De Niro filling the grizzled mentor role to perfection. In fact, it is hard to figure out just who the good guys and bad guys are in the film as all of the characters seem to be tarnished.
The film looks solid on Blu-ray and has a color scheme and grit that seems to fit the time period and storyline. It is a little light on special features with deleted scenes that don’t add too much to the story and some other bonus material such as pocket Blu.
The movie does get a tad slow towards the middle, but I enjoyed the old-school feeling to the spies, and the way it took the time to fully establish all of the characters. It does get a bit predictable towards the end, but wraps up leaving you wanting more.
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