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Home » Film

Killer Elite

Submitted by MBergeron on September 23, 2011 – 1:32 amNo Comment
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Killer Elite bears no semblance and isn’t a remake of the Sam Peckinpah movie that bears a similar name (The Killer Elite, 1975 with James Caan and Robert Duvall as CIA freelancers). But, Killer Elite needs to be on your radar because this is one rad film. Espionage, treachery and betrayal are given the full court press treatment.

Killer Elite also works in the sense that it’s a serious film that provides serious opportunities for action stars to actually practice what they preach in a good movie. Take Jason Statham, he’s thought of in terms of his work in Transporter and Crank type films, kind of a new millennium Jean-Claude Van Damme, yet the guy has talent as an actor with the right director. Take Statham in The Bank Job (2007), under the steady hand of director Roger Donaldson. Donaldson actually did a remake of Peckinpah’s The Getaway even going to the source material, Jim Thompson’s novel, and adding the novel’s beginning, which Peckinpah didn’t use. Suffice it to say The Bank Job was a tight bit of crime caper filmmaking and Statham shined within that ensemble cast, same thing in Killer Elite.

Clive Owen deserves to be Bond and in an alternative universe he is. Owen plays a mercenary of sorts who comes under the gun when a pair of similar guns-for-hire, Statham and Robert De Niro, are given his name on a contract. De Niro fans can put Killer Elite on the shelf next to Heat and Ronin. De Niro himself makes his share of Statham actioners that don’t really amount to much, titles like 15 Minutes or Righteous Kill, so it’s really good to see him in a film worthy of his talents.

Killer Elite is based of a book called The Feather Men, and upon it’s first printing the book contained maps and charts and lists that backed its assertion that the story was true. An Arab sheik kidnaps one assassin (De Niro) and forces his partner (Statham) to kill four men who were responsible for killing members of his family during a civil war type of killing cycle in the Middle East involving UK assistance against Communist guerillas. These men (Owen) are part of the British Elite Special Air Service, a kind of Greet Beret or Navy SEAL level of armed forces. The book takes place over nearly 20 years and the film has compressed the action much to its benefit. The Feather Man caused controversy due to people objecting to its veracity, and subsequent print editions lost the maps and such.

The obvious irony is that Statham, and the team he assembles, are the mirror images of the men they want to kill. There’s quite a bit of back and forth as you start to lose patience with the motives of A team and begin to sympathize with team B. There’s plenty of subterfuge and life and death moments throughout. The plot globetrots from underground caves in Arab countries to UK top-secret meeting rooms of rouge former-military-now-corporate-slaves of society. The body count climbs as the film progresses. Killer Elite deserves a smart audience to match its modern day interpretation of spy-versus-spy skullduggery.

- Michael Bergeron

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