September 26, 2011 by Vinnie Leduc
Last month’s biggest action film, Colombiana, was an overall disappointment despite some entertaining sequences and one hot femme fatale played by rising actress Zoë Saldaña. This weekend offered action buffs the choice between rising teen Taylor Lautner in Abduction and the triple pack of Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, and Clive Owen in Killer Elite. Both trailers looked pretty bad, but I chose to watch the R-rated film because (1.) action movies shouldn’t be PG-13 unless Optimus Prime is involved and (2.) Twilight can kiss my ass.
Based on the supposedly true story of assassins targeting British special forces members in the early ’80s, Killer Elite ultimately misses its mark. Rookie director Gary McKendry manages to keep his first feature film engaging enough till the end for a decent watch, but the clichéd story is kind of a mess otherwise. There are a handful of cool bits that push the movie above Statham’s last action flick, The Mechanic, but not quite at the caliber of the last movie De Niro appeared in, Limitless.
Speaking of “appeared in”, the marketing for Killer Elite‘s triple threat was more deceptive than any of the film’s characters. Basically playing the same role he’s had in nearly his entire career, Jason Statham is the only one of the top-billed trio to get major screen time. Clive Owen has a supporting role at most, and Robert De Niro is in it even less than Owen is. Both A-listers also provide familiar performances that I’m sure you’ve seen before; if anyone, lesser known actors Dominic Purcell and Aden Young should be commended for their work.
Even though it tries to convince you that it’s a true story, the film feels generic and unexceptional. It might have been helped had the fact-or-fiction controversy been definitely resolved in favor of the former side, but once you’re past its questionable marketing and over the occasional real thrills, you’ll see that Killer Elite is neither killer nor elite. Killer Elite gets 2.5 out of 5 stars or C+ or Okay.