KILLER ELITE (2011)


Director: Gary McKendry

Writers: Matt Sherring (screenplay) and Ranulph Fiennes (book)

Cast: Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen...

Running time: 116 minutes

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): R

Genres: Action/Crime/Thriller



Reviewed by Cherie Jung


No, not THE KILLER ELITE (1975), not the one with James Caan. This one has Robert De Niro, Jason Statham, and Clive Owen in it.

This one is about Middle Eastern oil, the SAS, and the assassination of three of four sons of a wealthy Middle Easterner who now wants revenge so that he can "save face" and his remaining son can return in good standing to the desert tribe his father abandoned years before. Naturally, with wealth, one can hire a professional killer, which he does. The snag? The professional killer decides he doesn't want the job or the 6 million dollar fee. Snag #2? The wealthy man imprisons the hired killer and sets out to hire another killer; a younger man who was mentored by the original killer. Still with me on this? Okay. Killer number two (Statham) doesn't want the job either but he takes it, reluctantly, in order that he might free his mentor (De Niro).

As you might expect, somewhere in England — okay, London — there is a shadowy group of old men who seem to have a lot of power and can pretty much do what they want. They seem to have been behind the original assassinations for oil deal. They collectively wring their hands that a killer has been loosed to exterminate — or terminate — the former SAS soldiers responsible for the actual killings but vote to do nothing about it. After all, there is the bigger picture to worry about. Mucking things up a bit is another former SAS soldier (Clive Owen) who doesn't care about "the bigger picture" he wants to stop the killer from killing the fellow ex-SAS soldiers. Mayhem ensues.

Three things you should know. Number one — this film is based on a book which was based on a true incident (or series of incidents, if you want to count the killings as separate incidents). Number two — De Niro, Statham, Owen, and all of the other actors and actresses in this film seem to be graduates of what some call the "Oak, Pine, and Teak Academy of Acting." (What was De Niro thinking?!?) And finally, number three — this film seems to go on for at least 3 hours too long.

Nothing wrong with the premise, but if you want a lesson in how to make action scenes boring, then this is a fine example. Towards the end, it began to feel more like one of those B-grade horror movies where the monster just won't die. Every time you think it's dead, the eyes pop open and here he comes again.

There were no sympathetic characters in this movie. Oh, I know, there were supposed to be...but I didn't care who got killed, why, or how. Midway through the movie, I wanted them all to die; good guys, bad guys, innocent bystanders...I didn't care. I just wanted them all dead and for the movie to be over.

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