Read Geoff Burton's review


With "Killer Elite," I'm convinced that Jason Statham is really trying to nudge audiences towards the connection between an assassin and a Blockbusting actor. After all, Statham has taken all kinds of jobs - "The Bank Job," "The Italian Job," etc. And what makes assassins so different from actors?


Both occupations require doing the job in whatever fashion they're instructed to, collecting the money that apparently makes it all worthwhile, and then even attempting to the mission completely behind them, for the sake of grinning and bearing other similar missions. Isn't this a pretty solid explanation of a large chunk of Statham's career of head butting and rifle-firing?


This comparison is fitting for the entirety of "Killer Elite," a super sloppy movie that bumbles itself just like its ill-executed hits that happen with in the actual story, where friendly fire leads to unnecessarily casualties, and stupidity fools even the simplest of jobs. The idiots in "Killer Elite" are by far from elite, and this movie is hardly a swift or successful job.

In his latest round of playing assassin, ruffian Statham plays Danny, a member of Britain's Elite Special Air Service (though in the movie they constantly just say SAS). He has an assassin mentor, Hunter, played by a bearded Robert De Niro.


Danny comes out of quiet retirement when Hunter is kidnapped by a sheik in Oman who wants revenge for his three sons as ransom. He is sent around the world to track down the man's son's killers, but is being chased by Spike, the leader of a secret military organization called "The Feather Men."


Jason "What's the job?" Statham is going through his action movie motions here, which include using his baldhead as a battering ram, fighting dirty, using a chair as a weapon, and jumping long distances. He even continues his goal to be taken seriously as a secret softy, as there are TWO different sequences in which he looks out an airplane window and has flashbacks to his lover left back in the country (Anne Strahovski).


Though he's only on screen for maybe twenty minutes total, De Niro is still able to make it clear to audience that this role is a bored yearning for excitement. He lacks any presence here except for being his famous actor self, and the movie tries to turn his appearance into that of a crowd-pleaser. He gets the coolest action moment (a sharp shot with a silencer) and the movies' moments of comic relief, which serve as "Killer Elite's" only novelty moments.

And poor Clive Owen. He gets some of the worst lines in the movie, the weakest action moments, and a glass eye to boot (Danny calls him an 'icon.') Was there some type of straw-pulling contest to see who had to say, "B-I-N-G-Fucking-O"? He's even got a He's even got a stupid name (Spike) and an even goofier lip pillow donned on his face like a giant hairy wart we're all hesitant to alert him of. "Killer Elite" takes place in the '80s, and the movie's stern stance on keeping the "fashionable" look of that decade doesn't prevent the movie from being even sillier (something that happens with another generic movie like "Tombstone.")


This movie about killers is rife with silly mustaches, leather jackets, and sunglasses. These are only macho men if we're referring to the song by the Village People.


Before Owen even comes on-screen with his infamous 'stache, the main story of "Killer Elite" collapses under the low IQ of a script that can't support the main (and true) story, which requires more than just an appetite for action cliches to be correctly told.


Once Danny heads to Oman to try to rescue Hunter, the movie becomes needlessly complicated with extraneous assassin characters and a consistently confusing storyline. (I tried to make some sense of it above). "Killer Elite" hardly makes sense of the killings (the sons' murders) that are central to the entire "game" within the movie, and it falls apart from there.

You're never sure who's good, who's bad, what "Murba" is, or what Anne is doing just strolling around Paris as if she didn't sleep next to a threatening bullet casing the night before.


Equally as tossed-together and tensionless as the story are the movie's action sequences, which often consist of sporadic car chases in pedestrian vehicles, or indecipherable chicken fights between Owen and Statham. A moment in which Statham uses a chair as a weapon might be "Killer Elite's" shining few seconds, but this scene quickly loses any shred of its cool when Statham dives out of a window and lands safely on a truck bed.


As mentioned earlier, these assassins are far from elite. "Killer Elite" might be a more appealing title than that of its source, "The Feather Men," but its nonetheless misguiding. Each kill in the movie is fairly sloppy, and sometimes missions end with goofy abruptness. Perhaps

co-writer/director McKendry was hoping to demonstrate the imperfection of an assassin, but such realism doesn't have a place here, especially coddled between irrational sharp shooting with silencers, and a human being beating someone up with a chair.


"Killer Elite" never finds footing with its plot, it just keeps pushing itself onto its audience until it's all over, and De Niro, "the voice of experience," has made some smirky wisecrack. It's a purported cat and mouse thriller where everybody loses.   -- NICK ALLEN, is also a film critic for The Scorecard Review and member of Chicago Film Critics Association