Killer Elite is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray
On paper Killer Elite is an interesting prospect, based on the alleged true story told in Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ 1991 novel ‘The Feather Men’ and starring Robert De Niro it seems like an edge of your seat thriller. Add to that the backdrop of 80s Britain, the glare of the Oman deserts and Jason Statham running around looking gruff, this should, in theory, be a blast.
What you actually get however is an old fashioned action movie, not in a timeless sense but in a sloppy full of plot holes kind of way.
Jason Statham is the ‘lured out or retirement, one last job and I’m out’ lead and as always he chews his way entertainingly through the story. De Niro adds the acting weight but in truth has little to do other than look beardy and worry for his protégés’ safety, briefly kicking ass towards the end but not exactly stretching himself.
Clearly Dick Van Dyke still has a lot to answer for as it would appear that Dominic Purcell has modelled his British accent on Mary Poppins and veers between Australian and, well, God knows what throughout the film. It is worth noting however that NEVER does it hint at Welsh so quite how he adopts the moniker of the ‘Welshman’ is a head scratcher. He does sport some awesome face fuzz though.
These were clearly more trusting times as it appears all you needed to do to ‘tail’ people in the 80s was walk about 20 paces behind them and wear dark glasses, not to mention the fact that no one seems to notice the huge ear pieces all those ‘undercover’ agents are wearing.
The problem really lies in the unevenness, take for example the bone crunching fight between Clive Owen and Statham in the hospital. Throwing each other around, trading punches and generally rough housing like the tough secret agent bastards they are, neither can be knocked down. In steps ‘henchman number whatever’ and TWO punches from Statham lays him out cold.
I could explain the story but it really doesn’t warrant much effort, Statham and co. are set up, forced into taking a job they don’t want and battle against all sides, everyone out for money and/or oil. Motives remain fairly unclear throughout, again not due to some intricate plotting, just slack execution.
It is not a bad movie, just not an especially good one, the second half picks up and there are some bursts of exciting action but all too many inconsistencies. Statham, De Niro and Owen give it their best but in fairness have little to work with.
Saving grace however and earning it a whole extra point in my rating is one particular verbal exchange, you’ll know it when you hear it, until then, just call me Mithwick.
Jules says… 3/5