Okay... two consecutive Sam Peckinpah remakes would have been a bit much. STRAW DOGS was one thing, but KILLER ELITE (no "The") is NOT a remake of Peckinpah's 1975 vehicle (which I haven't seen), though it DOES, of course, deal with conspiracy and betrayal...
This new movie is, of course, "based on a true story"--namely, "The Feather Men," a controversial account of the British involvement in the conflict in the oil-rich Oman region in the 1980s--the real-life author is even invoked as a character in the film. Now, as to the veracity of the actual story which takes PLACE in the film? Naturally, it's a "stop me if you've heard this one before" deal.
As soon as I tell you that contract hitman Danny (Jason Statham) suffers serious misgivings about his profession when he ends up killing someone in front of his young son... okay, you guessed it. He's now OUT. Permanently OUT. He's going to live a normal, happy rustic life with a nice young lady. And nothing can make him change his mind. Until his long-time friend and partner (Robert de Niro) is captured and dangled as bait, of course.
In order to free his compadre (and pick up a six million dollar payoff), Danny and his new teammates have to carry out three specific hits. Danny goes out of his way to make absolutely certain that nobody but the three "bad guys" will get hurt... but his new partners don't care nearly as much about such matters. Meantime, ex-SAS (British Special Forces) man Clive Owen has reasons of his own to try to bust up the hit parade.
No, no points for originality in the scenario... and the dialogue is occasionally cringe-inducing. "It's not who I am. It's what I've done." "Killing is easy. Living with it's hard." Yes. Really. Still, I have to award full points for "I'm the one they let fly in an unchartered helicopter with a gun in his pocket. You can call me 'Miffwick.'" I'll let you hear the payoff for yourself.
So what, if anything, saves KILLER ELITE? Well, the cast is all at their dependable best--Statham and de Niro deliver exactly what you'd expect from them in such a vehicle, but it's a special treat to see Clive Owen in an action film that takes itself seriously after the suffocatingly jokey SHOOT 'EM UP (sorry, but if you want to do CRANK, you HAVE to have Jason Statham. That's his and his alone). And that's where KILLER ELITE does NOT let you down--it serves straight-up, hard-hitting, comprehensible action and suspense throughout (even the highly-improbable sequence highlighted in the trailer doesn't play out exactly that way in the actual film). Even with a generous running time of approximately two hours, and even with two potential end points that turn out not to be such, the film is never boring.
In the end, if you want to see Jason Statham in a seriously engaging, original, meticulous and entertaining "true crime" story with political overtones, make it THE BANK JOB. But if the cast and the premise made KILLER ELITE a possibility in your book, you're still in for a good time at the movies.
As in not off. If you want to post about mainstream flicks, this is the forum.
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