Killer Elite: A Belated Review

Killer Elite is one of the better action movies of 2011 but unfortunately, it fell victim to too many great movies for the year that it sort of fell off the radar. It stars Jason Statham, Robert de Niro, Dominic Purcell (Prison Break) and Clive Owens as three ass kicking SOBs on opposite sides of the law so that should get you interested, but more than anything, the movie is more amazing owing to the fact that it is supposedly based on a true story — an account from the book Feather Men written by Ralph and Joseph Fiennes’ distant cousin Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who served in the British Army for eight years during the height of the British counter-insurgency era. The verdict is still out over its veracity, however, because the British government denies everything.

Killer Elite is the story of Danny Bryce (Statham), a reformed assassin who is brought back to the game when his good friend and fellow assassin Hunter (de Niro) is taken hostage by an oil sheik for reneging on a deal worth $6 million. Long story short, Danny gets stuck with fulfilling Hunter’s commitment to kill the SAS (elite intelligence) men who murdered his three sons so that his remaining son could go back to their people, able to hold his head up because his brothers’ deaths have been avenged. What makes the hits so complicated is that all of the targets are in England, and a persistent veteran SAS agent (Owens) keeps getting in the way.

Killer Elite is no different from any other Statham movie. It has great action, car chases and a lot of back and forth between himself and his opponent, in this case Clive Owen. But what gets me everytime is that the execution of the action is always on point. So kudos to the brilliance of the fight coordinators and stunt directors who made the movie as kick ass as it was.

In this case, I appreciated the fact that the setting was in 1980 and therefore, there were no high tech gadgets yet available for both the protagonists and antagonists to get one step ahead of each other. Heck, even the secret meetings of the feather men did not even have powerpoint presentations but rather, folders and folders of profiles derived from spies. I liked that that there was a mix of old school and new school in the execution and that the stars were given roles that complement each other.

Also, the characters seemed like just regular people who happened to have  extraordinary skills in killing people. They sort of just shrugged off the fact that they kill people for a living. The friendship between Danny and Hunter didn’t force any drama but rather just played out like a genuine relationship between two guys who have a history together. And despite their opposing view from Owens’ character, I liked that there was a moment where they all just stood quietly and understood each other, a point of realization that sort of tied the story together.

All in all, a great collaboration and a great spy vs spy movie. Very light yet very gritty, no surprising twist waiting to be cracked open, just straightforward action and a solid conspiracy theory like in the good old days. Critics may have panned this but I kinda loved it.