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Film Review: Killer Elite

10/09/2011 10:57AM ● Published by Wendy Sipple

Killer Elite follows an elite assassin named Danny, played by Jason Statham. Danny attempts to retire but is pulled back into a job when his mentor, Hunter, is captured by a rich sheik who wants Danny to assassinate his son's killers, SAS members (British special ops) in exchange for Hunter's release. Danny agrees to do the job -- it gets complicated when an ex-SAS member, Spike (who is associated with the Featherman club, a group of ex-SAS members who are now wealthy bankers), starts investigating the murders.

Writer Matt Sherring may have been locked into this complicated plot by basing it off of a book that claims to be real (government officials and agencies have publicly claimed that these events are not real), but the movie suffers for it. As it stands Killer Elite is a mixture of two genres -- political thriller and action -- but, unfortunately, does neither well. The film lacks the nuance and intelligence of political thrillers and because it is so plot heavy it detracts from the action that Jason Statham fans have come to love. It’s very difficult to ascertain who the good guys and the bad guys are, so it is difficult to decide which side you should be rooting for. The film makers wants you to like Statham, but he is working for the bad guys, right? Great action movies clearly define these roles, but even at the end of Killer Elite I am not sure if anyone is “good” or “bad.”

First time director Gary McKendry tries to keep the movie moving at a brisk pace, but the movie lacks the style or edge that would give it a unique voice. There are moments in the film that show the promise that the movie could have had, and it's populated with plenty of big personalities. A director like Guy Ritchie or Matthew Vaghn would have exploited these characters, but McKendry played it straight...much to his detriment.

The actors all do fine work in the movie. Robert DeNiro does what he can with the small supporting role he is given. Jason Statham is believable In his action scenes -- he is also a capable dramatic actor as well. Clive Owen is more than convincing as the ex-SAS agent Spike. 

Unfortunately Killer Elite is a movie that is neither remarkably good or memorably bad, it ends up being rather bland and forgettable. The movie does have a couple of action scenes that work, in particular the opening scene. But the plot is not interesting enough to keep a sophisticated audience engaged or an action audience entertained. So after leaving the theater, Killer Elite will not be something you liked or hated, just something you forgot.

Films like Killer Elite --- Colombiana, Hitman and The Mechanic


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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