What does Clive Owen, Jason Statham and Robert De Niro all have in common? They’ve all done great action films. De Niro’s early stuff might not be as comparable as Owen and Statham’s (because De Niro’s earlier stuff is amazing and not on the same careless action level as the other two), but he’s done his fair share of shoot ‘em up’s, while Clive Owen actually did a film called Shoot ‘Em Up. In Killer Elite all three men mix their different styles into one; making an exercise of patience and credibility.
All three seem more than capable of doing another action film that’s short on brains and tall on violence, yet director Gary McKendry chooses to shoot the film in a slow manner, taking his time with every last shaky camera shot while spacing out what little action is actually in the film. Killer Elite isn’t just a disappointment for all three men and the action genre itself, it’s a film that manages to go much lower than low expectations. It’s a brainless, emotionless and pointless film that is below everyone involved.
In the middle of a normal assassination mission, Danny (Jason Statham) is reborn. No longer does he want to kill or live the wild life as a hired hand, instead he wants out of the business and for good. He’s sick of dirtying his hands and he relocates far away from his mentor Hunter (Robert De Niro) hoping to form a relationship with someone close and live a peaceful life. Everything is going smoothly until Hunter is kidnapped and Danny is called in to do a string of hits in exchange for Hunters freedom.
He’s a loyal and trusting friend, so he accepts the offer and gets to work.
Spike (Clive Owen) is a retired member of an elite British group. He’s always on monitoring detail, looking out for the next job. When his friends start getting killed left and right he brings attention to his superiors and fellow members only to get silenced by higher ups. He takes matters into his own hands and has several confrontations with Danny and his men.
As Killer Elite progresses Danny and Spike slowly draw closer. They have several small encounters, but they don’t really get a lot of screen time until the end. The film was advertised as an action film with three popular stars of the genre, but it’s actually more of a setup film. It focuses on Danny and his story of getting back into the business he swore never to return to. Spike isn’t the bad guy he was advertised to be, he’s just another guy who drew a short straw.
They’re both the same, just on opposite sides of the field. You could argue that director Gary McKendry was going for two different angles that meet in the middle, but that doesn’t excuse the awful camerawork and overly confusing story that leads to another scenario where the bad guy literally explains his plot in front of the two stars.
Killer Elite is a globetrotting film that travels to the ugliest places on earth and it doesn’t even have the decency to let you soak up some sun. It’s constantly moving from country to country only to see if you’re paying attention. Jason Statham and Clive Owen provide expressionless faces throughout the entire film, looking almost as bored as the general audience that didn’t bother seeing this film when it tanked theatrically. They’ve both done so much better before and Killer Elite doesn’t even seem interested in getting some good face time between the two of them.
They brawl for a few minutes and then are quickly cut off by nameless bad guys that live for maybe 10 minutes. The worst part about it is Robert De Niro. He’s actually trying to give his role some character, but every time he says something the film quickly turns in the opposite direction and runs away. He plays more of a cameo if anything. When he’s on the screen he provides another hard ass role, but this time more rightfully seasoned and tough. He’s not playing another Meet the Parents role, which is good to hear, but disappointing to watch when you realize he has no reason to even be in the film.
Killer Elite feels like a 3 and a half hour movie, but it’s actually only 2 hours. It could have easily cut out a good 30 minutes without losing any “story”. It’s just one big confusing game of kill or be killed, but no one important actually gets killed. The people that do get killed have no weight and when it’s all said and done you’ll still be scratching your head asking yourself, “what the hell did I just watch and why was Robert De Niro in it?”
Killer Elite looks incredibly vivid on Blu-Ray. The 1080p transfer is highly detailed and features tons of deep blacks and sweaty oranges. The films various locations benefit from the high def transfer and make use of the added layer of detail. I couldn’t find a soft spot throughout the entire film, which is a blessing after watching such a weak movie.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is also a winner; blowing up the speakers whenever action is around (which isn’t as often as you’d think). Dialogue is clean and understandable in the front channels and gunfire and action picks up in the rear. The film opens strong and closes loud, but gets lost in a snooze during the middle.
Killer Elite is one of the barest discs in recent memory. It only comes with 13 deleted scenes, a DVD copy and a digital copy. Nothing more!
- Deleted Scenes (HD): 13 pointless cuts that shouldn’t have even been filmed in the first place.
- DVD Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
I wouldn’t recommend Killer Elite to anybody. The film as a whole is such a waste of time and energy. Robert De Niro, Jason Statham and Clive Owen most likely took the project for an easy paycheck and a chance to work together. The film consists of maybe 15 minutes of real action and the rest is a sleep inducing story of setups, double crossing and typical oil hungry sheiks kidnapping bearded men for their sick pleasure. It’s a lousy film from every aspect and a lazy one to boot.
The Blu-Ray disc isn’t any better. Sure, the picture and audio are of quality, but the film has no replay value and the disc has no features to invest into, just some deleted scenes that are as pointless as the film itself. Killer Elite is one of those films that’s not even worth renting. It’s a film that you catch 20 minutes of here and there while flicking through the channels on a late night. Even then I’d approach with caution.