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Killer Elite

September 24, 2011
Killer Elite

Jason Statham is back in Killer Elite, playing what seems to be all he ever does play. I suppose there’s something to be said for finding one thing you’re really good at and doing that over and over, but no matter how good you are I’m going to get bored watching the same movie again and again.

This time around Statham plays Danny Bryce, a hit man with a code, and lately with a conscience; after a job goes less than perfectly in 1980 Mexico, he tells his partner Hunter (Robert DeNiro) that he can’t do this sort of thing anymore, and that he’s out of the game. But a year later, his agent (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) tells him that Hunter is being held hostage in Oman. An oil sheikh has a number of unsettled scores left with some British Special Air Service soldiers who covertly interfered with a recent local war and killed three of his four sons.

Hunter evidently tried to abscond with the payment without carrying out the job, and now Danny must do it in order to free him. Adding to the difficulty, each of the soldiers must not only be found, but he must be taped confessing to the killings, and then their own killings must be made to look like accidents. The fact that a number of former SAS members drop dead one after another, along with a trail of very much un-accidentally killed bodies scattered around, evidently is not supposed to raise any suspicion. Be that as it may, Danny enlists a couple of his old crew — Davies (Dominic Purcell) and Meier (Aden Young) — to track down the targets and dispose of them.

But of course their operations raise the attention of one Spike (Clive Owen), another ex-SAS man who acts as the operational head of a secret society of such ex-SAS men who refer to themselves as the “Feather Men”. He takes it upon himself and his organization, with varying support from his superiors, to defend the targets. How he figures out their common thread is less than clear, but that’s sort of par for the course here.

Now, there is another film from 1975 called Killer Elite, but this is not the second remake of a Sam Peckinpah picture in as many weeks. Instead it’s based on the book The Feather Men by one Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who claims to have been one of the targets of the assassination attempts. Naturally, the British government denies the whole thing, but there’s not really any solid evidence on either side. Still, the fact that it’s even up for debate indicates that Fiennes’ writing must have been significantly more coherent than Matt Sherring’s adaptation, not to mention first-time director Gary McKendry’s work. He may be great at shooting commercials, but at time scales beyond a few minutes things start to fall apart.

But there’s a lot of chasing — on foot and in cars — and a lot of fighting, and Statham gives good grit and self-criticism, as usual. If you like his work, this is more of the same. As for me, I’m ready for something new from him. Maybe a remake of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Worth It: no.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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