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Review: Killer Elite

Sep. 23, 2011by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Danny Bryce (Jason Statham) is a mercenary, and the protege of veteran soldier-of-fortune, Hunter (Robert De Niro). After retiring, Bryce is pulled back into the game when Hunter is kidnapped by an Arabian Sheik. His demand: that Bryce hunt down and kill the three former SAS soldiers that killed his sons. Accepting the assignment, Bryce ends up in the cross hairs of Spike (Clive Owen), a former SAS officer, whos now the point man for a secret organization called The Feather Men, which is dedicated to protecting former SAS officers, and their families the violent retaliation of their enemies.

REVIEW: KILLER ELITE is a much more interesting film than I thought it would be. The trailers make this look like your typical Jason Statham bone-cruncher, but it's actually closer to something like THE BANK JOB. Sure, it's action-packed, but it aspires to be a little different too, with it's plot coming from an allegedly fact-based book called THE FEATHER MEN, written by ex-SAS officer Ranulph Fiennes (Ralph's third cousin).

The trailers that make this look like Statham's the good guy going up against an evil Clive Owen totally misrepresent the film. If anything, Statham and De Niro are kind-of the villains, as they're hired killers looking to kill (albeit reluctantly) ex-SAS officers who were only obeying orders. In a way, his character isn't that different from the one he played in THE MECHANIC, and he's humanized by his reluctance to kill and his (somewhat tacked-on) romance with Yvonne Strahovski's civilian character. Of course, Statham's still the star, but a good chunk of the movie is more of a DAY OF THE JACKAL-style thriller, as we follow him and his associates as they methodically plan their assassinations. This is easily Statham's best role since THE BANK JOB, and the kind of film that could (and should) take him to the next level as an action star.

That said, Clive Owen's really the good guy here, with him being the only one with a truly heroic motivation. His mission is solely to protect his former comrades-in-arms, no matter who gets in his way. Owen's terrific as always, sporting a hard-man mustache, and a bad-ass milked over eye. Physically, I wasn't sure if I would be able to buy him as a threat to Statham, but he pulls it off through a combination of intensity, menace, and well-staged (if a little too close-cut) fight scenes.

Robert De Niro always does quite well as Statham's mentor. I've given him a lot of grief for his recent run of bad films, but KILLER ELITE is a step-up, even if it's a relatively minor role that could have just as easily been played by someone else. De Niro's always been solid in action (just look at RONIN for evidence), and he even acquits himself pretty well physically, engaging in a few short hand-to-hand scraps.

The scene-stealer here is Dominic Purcell, from PRISON BREAK, as one of Statham's cronies; an Aussie hard-man, that sports a wicked handlebar moustache (there is some fine mustachery in this film) and has a major axe to grind with the SAS for booting him out during basic training. Purcell's wildly different here as a swingin' dick, semi-psychopath and it shows more of a range than I thought he had based on PRISON BREAK.

KILLER ELITE is lastly, a very stylish debut for director Gary McKendry. The thing I liked most about the film is that it was faithful enough to Fiennes' book to keep it period. This gives it a unique feel, and the film's CGI-free, grounded action set pieces mesh well with that setting. I'm not so sure I buy the based on a true story bit, even though Fiennes himself is worked into the plot towards the end. Regardless, I really enjoyed it. It's a kick-ass action flick that really stands out in Statham's testosterone-packed filmography.

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:57PM on 09/24/2011

Can't wait to see this...

when I can rent it.... Don't get me wrong, it looks good. Anymore though you need to do something pretty amazing to get me to the theater.
when I can rent it.... Don't get me wrong, it looks good. Anymore though you need to do something pretty amazing to get me to the theater.
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11:46PM on 09/23/2011
Maybe is Yvonne Strahovski would've done a nude scene I might have paid to see this thing. As it stands... pass.
Maybe is Yvonne Strahovski would've done a nude scene I might have paid to see this thing. As it stands... pass.
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-1
3:09PM on 09/23/2011

was one of my most anticipated movies of the year

but ended up being a pretty big disappointment, very very mediocre.

Check out my review here if you'd like: [link]
but ended up being a pretty big disappointment, very very mediocre.

Check out my review here if you'd like: [link]
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2:07PM on 09/23/2011
Tonight baby!
Tonight baby!
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10:01PM on 09/12/2011
Great review and the film looks awesome. I will gladly see Owen in anything since he is one of my favorite actors.

Also, glad to hear Dominic Purcell is a scene stealer. He was great on the show 'Prison Break'.
Great review and the film looks awesome. I will gladly see Owen in anything since he is one of my favorite actors.

Also, glad to hear Dominic Purcell is a scene stealer. He was great on the show 'Prison Break'.
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11:14PM on 09/10/2011
Nice to see its a good film. I assumed it was crap with Clive Owen just taking the dump role to Statham. Owen is, at this point in time, the best actor of the 3 and was hoping he just wasn't some douchebag bad ass wanna-bee to fill 90 min.

Side note in response to earlier poster. By todays standards Prison Break and its wonderful 4 years is a long run for a show.
Nice to see its a good film. I assumed it was crap with Clive Owen just taking the dump role to Statham. Owen is, at this point in time, the best actor of the 3 and was hoping he just wasn't some douchebag bad ass wanna-bee to fill 90 min.

Side note in response to earlier poster. By todays standards Prison Break and its wonderful 4 years is a long run for a show.
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5:15AM on 09/10/2011
BTW, I'm happy to hear that this is good since I haven't cared much for Stathem's last 2 movies, Blitz and The Mechanic.
BTW, I'm happy to hear that this is good since I haven't cared much for Stathem's last 2 movies, Blitz and The Mechanic.
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5:13AM on 09/10/2011
For the record, Dominic Purcell was AWESOME in Prison Break! Lincoln Burrows was my second favorite character on the show, second only to William Fichtner's John Mahone.
For the record, Dominic Purcell was AWESOME in Prison Break! Lincoln Burrows was my second favorite character on the show, second only to William Fichtner's John Mahone.
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+5
2:32AM on 09/10/2011
Nice to hear this is a good film. I was reluctant from the trailers, as it looked like a typical Statham piece, but it's nice to see it's more like The Bank Job. But, did I read that right....Dominc Purcell is.....a scene stealer? I've been a fan of his since he was John Doe in the titular, and short lived, FOX series (though I never got into Jail Break...), but he's never really had a presence. It's nice to see he does some good work here.
Nice to hear this is a good film. I was reluctant from the trailers, as it looked like a typical Statham piece, but it's nice to see it's more like The Bank Job. But, did I read that right....Dominc Purcell is.....a scene stealer? I've been a fan of his since he was John Doe in the titular, and short lived, FOX series (though I never got into Jail Break...), but he's never really had a presence. It's nice to see he does some good work here.
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5:41PM on 09/09/2011
Sounds great but the storyline as described above gets me worried about one thing: is there a final fight to the death between statham and owen? Because if owen is actually the good guy, might be they pussy out and let both of em live. That would be a shame!
Sounds great but the storyline as described above gets me worried about one thing: is there a final fight to the death between statham and owen? Because if owen is actually the good guy, might be they pussy out and let both of em live. That would be a shame!
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4:17PM on 09/09/2011

Chris my friend...

You've added 3 movies to my must-see list in less than two days. You the man!
You've added 3 movies to my must-see list in less than two days. You the man!
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3:47PM on 09/09/2011
Yaay! Glad you liked it, can't wait to see it. I was desperate to see it at TIFF but it sold out in like 10 minutes... bastards.
Yaay! Glad you liked it, can't wait to see it. I was desperate to see it at TIFF but it sold out in like 10 minutes... bastards.
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3:45PM on 09/09/2011
Been keeping my eye on this since the first trailer came out. Good to see that this not another generic Jason Statham vehicle!
Been keeping my eye on this since the first trailer came out. Good to see that this not another generic Jason Statham vehicle!
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