There are two astonishingly awesome fight sequences in Killer Elite.
Jason Statham, an assassin-for-hire in the upper echelons of political and corporate intrigue, is tied to a chair, sitting.
He proceeds to beat a man, disable him, then move across the room and throw himself out the window, land on a truck, free himself and escape.
Those few electrifying seconds alone makes this film worthy.
Clive Owen, who often plays dark characters, gets in the fray with Statham in another fight scene, and they really go at it. I’m not a moviegoer who gets thrills from movie violence. I tolerate it, but these scenes are so balletic and unique and new that they must be mentioned.
They bring to mind Statham in Crank, thrown from a helicopter hurtling towards earth, reaching into his pocket for his cell phone and making a call. Jaw dropping stunts like these are talking points that help a film live on in geek glory.
It’s an interesting and complex story of betrayal, revenge and redemption for sure, and it’s based on a true story, but the films raison d’etre is Statham’s antics, straight up.
He’s Danny, a retired and decorated member of Britain’s Elite Special Air Service and he’s considered one of the best agents in the world. He has a stellar record of service and loyalty, but he wants to begin a new life as a farmer.
However his plans are interrupted when his mentor and friend Hunter (Robert De Niro, in fine form) is taken hostage in Oman, drawing Danny back into business to retrieve him. Hunter’s being held in the armed fortress of a sheik, whose m.o. is to draw Danny to him.
He orders Danny to kill the people who killed three of his sons, a mission that will take Danny into danger around the world.
Meanwhile, Owen’s Spike, an operative of a British secret military vigilante society known as The Feathermen, has an agenda, and he is focusing on Danny. It was he who arranged the hits.
Spike is a gifted strategist and fighter, well connected with some of the most dangerous men in the world. So Danny and Spike, equally matched in their particular skills, are good opponents.
The chilling thing is that this story of international assassination is based on an incident as described in Ranulph Fiennes 1991 novel The Feathermen, which has been described as part fact, part fiction [Fiennes is the second cousin of Ralph and Jospeh Fiennes].
The case in the book played out over many years, but the film shortens it for drama and time.
The travel aspect of the film is richly appealing, taking us to rural Australia to Paris, London, Wales and the Middle East, where we learn that there is nowhere to hide if someone wants to find you.
If a bullet shows up in your rural Australian farm which you believe to be off the radar, there’s big trouble brewing.
One slight problem with the film is that the only female presence, Danny’s childhood friend Anne, (Yvonne Strahovski) is the idealized character of shampoo commercials, blonde, beautiful, sexy yet innocent and conventionally moral (even though she learns what Danny does and is okay with it, maybe she pouts a little) who inspires wicked men to be better than they are.
But overall, it’s a fun yarn with top notch action and adventure.
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35mm action adventure
Written by Ranulph Fiennes, Gary McKendry, Matt Sherring
Directed by Gary McKendry
Opens: Sept. 23
Runtime: 100 minutes
MPAA: Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
Country: US/ Australia