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REEL ACTION: Killer Elite (2011) with Jason Statham, Clive Owen, and Robert De Niro

01.20.2012by: Ammon Gilbert

KILLER ELITE (2011)
Rating: 2 on 4 /
Buy the Blu-ray here


Tagline: May the Best Man Live

Directed by Gary McKendry
Starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Dominic Purcell, and Robert De Niro

THE PLAN: An assassin is hired to assassinate military assassins while another assassin is hot on the trail to stop him.

THE KILL: Jason Statham is our main man in action these days, providing a filmography that’s full of ass-kicking excitement and plenty of violence, on both on the big and small screen. What sets him apart from the other players that are out to hold the King Action Hero title (like The Rock, Vin Diesel, or Channing Tatum) is he only does action—he doesn’t do kid movies, or comedies, or romantic flicks. He does all action all the time, and for that… he’s the King. Throw Statham in the same flick as Clive Owen and legendary actor Robert De Niro, and you’d think you’d have the makings for the action movie event of the year, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case…

KILLER ELITE is based on a true story of assassins vs. hitmen vs. spies that was played out in the early 1980s, and it’s the “true story” element that deters this film from being a better, more entertaining action-packed experience. Instead, it’s a film that’s heavy on plot, of which is entirely too complicated for its own good. Not that twists and turns are a bad thing, and a lot of times it can propel a mediocre movie into something awesome. But in the case of KILLER ELITE, it muddles the water so much that it’s hard to follow and honestly, get’s downright confusing. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… it’s a flippin’ action movie—dumb it down a little bit!

But let’s look at just the action, as that’s why we’re all here, right? There’s plenty of action to go around in KILLER ELITE, and plenty of sequences to get you through the film’s almost 2 hour runtime. The action starts out strong with an ambush-type scenario, then lulls for a bit, then kicks off with a rescue-type scenario, then lulls, then it’s chase after chase cat-and-mouse type scenarios, then right when you think it’s over… there’s a whole other chase sequence tapped on in the end. And while there’s car chases, explosions, and gun fights throughout, the flick excels during its fist fight and foot chase sequences—and there’s plenty of each to go around.

On the outside, all of the above sounds totally amazing and you know what, on paper, the film is awesome. But in execution, it’s actually quite a bore. I don’t know what the deal is, but none of the action was all that exciting or thrilling, there are no cheer-out-loud action sequences, no awesome one-liners, or even any really memorable scenes. KILLER ELITE is quite literally one forgettable scene after another, laced together by the most complicated storyline in the history of action films.

That said, Statham and Owen do a decent job and deliver exactly what you’d expect—although, let’s face it, that mustache on Owen’s face really wasn’t cool. Pretty nasty, actually. Dominic Purcell, known for his role in PRISON BREAK and BLADE: TRINITY, does an astounding job here as one of Statham’s team members –he virtually transforms into his character with the help of a burly handlebar mustache and big hair. Barely recognized the guy! Then there’s De Niro, who literally showed up and did what he was told, but honestly… the role could have gone to anybody. He doesn’t have a lot of screen time, and when he does… it’s mostly useless. Not that he gives a bad performance, he does fine for what it was, but it wasn’t a signature De Niro role and will be easily forgotten when looking back at the guy's career.

All in all, KILLER ELITE wasn’t the elite action film it sets out to make you believe. If it weren’t for Owen and De Niro’s presence, this would have fallen straight to DVD like so many of Statham’s other films. And to be frank, a lot of his STD flicks are actually better than this one. Bland action and convoluted plot catapults this flick into one of the more forgettable movies of 2011--one that could have been totally awesome, but somehow missed the mark.


Red Band Trailer for KILLER ELITE!

TOP DEATH: Purcell does a fantastic job as a hardass in this movie, but that has nothing to do with his epic death. It's so insanely out-of-the-blue and in-your-face, that you'll be caught off guard (and reminded a bit of Final Destination, no less), making it not only the best death, but also the most memorable.

TOP ACTION SCENE: The car chase between Owen and Statham that leads into a footchase in a hospital which then turns into a fist fight with broken bottles and punches to the nuts is by far the most exciting, adreneline-fueled sequence in the whole movie, and the only one that actually gets the heart-rate pumping. These two beating the crap out of each other is about as good as it gets!

TOP HOMOEROTIC MOMENT: The only thing that's fifetastic about this flick is Clive Owen's molestache. The thing is terrifying to look at for more than a few seconds and turns Owen from a badass assassin to a sideshow freak... just like that.

FEMALE EXPLOITATION: With a nip-slip during a sex scene here and a ho getting randomly topless there, you have yourself just a smidgen of T&A here. Not bad for a 2011 release!

TOP LINE/DIALOGUE: De Niro: I gotta cover my expenses. (taking stolen drug money and dumping the rest)
NOTE: This wins more for the ironic art imitating life, as lately this is De Niro's M.O.: doing lame movies just for the money.

DRINKING GAME: Every time there's a plot twist and things get even more complicated than it was before, you have to drink.

TRIVIA: The film is based on a true story, which is probably why the action isn't all that awesome.

EXTRAS: The Blu-ray comes with a DVD and Digital Copy, so you can literally watch this flick anywhere and everywhere you go. The HD sound and picture quality are top-notch (as expected), putting your TV and surround sound speakers to the test.

The only special feature is a collection of Deleted Scenes that are sort of cool, but mostly fluff. It's easy to see why they fell to the cutting room floor, but if you're into the movie on the whole, you might as well check them out.

GET THE BLU-RAY HERE!

Extra Tidbit: What's your favorite Jason Statham movie, straight to DVD or otherwise?
Tags: reel action

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5:15PM on 02/10/2012
Not very good, but not terrible either. I'm pretty much in agreement. You're right about Dominic Purcell. He was awesome. Also, I liked that Clive Owen wasn't the flat-out villain he seemed to be in the ads. Hell, I was kind of rooting for the guy. However, that mustache did have to go.
Not very good, but not terrible either. I'm pretty much in agreement. You're right about Dominic Purcell. He was awesome. Also, I liked that Clive Owen wasn't the flat-out villain he seemed to be in the ads. Hell, I was kind of rooting for the guy. However, that mustache did have to go.
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7:49PM on 01/20/2012
Why do I feel like I'm the only person that actually liked this movie?
Why do I feel like I'm the only person that actually liked this movie?
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4:42PM on 01/20/2012
I agree with your review, though it was a little more generous than I would have been. DeNiro was sleep walking through this thing, the dialogue was terrible, the transitions were terrible, the action was surprisingly fluid but I just didn't care. There was something so bland and punchless despite all the handheld close ups of guns blasting away and dudes getting shot to shit. I feel more engaged at the DMV than I did when watching Killer Elite.
I agree with your review, though it was a little more generous than I would have been. DeNiro was sleep walking through this thing, the dialogue was terrible, the transitions were terrible, the action was surprisingly fluid but I just didn't care. There was something so bland and punchless despite all the handheld close ups of guns blasting away and dudes getting shot to shit. I feel more engaged at the DMV than I did when watching Killer Elite.
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7:54AM on 01/20/2012
I'd agree with almost all of your review. Killer Elite is better than a straight-to-video movie, but only just. It's still a massive waste of all the talent involved. But it's what I expected, since sadly seeing Robert De Niro appear is now a sign of mediocrity. What happened Bob?

Just one thing though: This is NOT based on a true story. Come on man, even 10 seconds of research would tell you that it's clearly not. It's based on a story that Ranulph Fiennes invented to sell his books. Do you
I'd agree with almost all of your review. Killer Elite is better than a straight-to-video movie, but only just. It's still a massive waste of all the talent involved. But it's what I expected, since sadly seeing Robert De Niro appear is now a sign of mediocrity. What happened Bob?

Just one thing though: This is NOT based on a true story. Come on man, even 10 seconds of research would tell you that it's clearly not. It's based on a story that Ranulph Fiennes invented to sell his books. Do you believe it when exorcism movies or alien abduction movies claim to be "based on a true story" too? :P
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